According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2 million people with mental illness annually end up in jail. While housing an inmate can cost up to $31,000 per year, community mental health services can cost only $10,000 for that same time period. It is clear that the status quo serves no
one. The Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnerships for Early Diversion program from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is offering up to $13.4 million to fund diversion programs that will allow people to get the help they need, while ultimately easing the burden on overcrowded jails and prisons and saving taxpayers' money.
The Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnerships Program
The purpose of this program, also know by the short version of its title as Early Diversion Grants, is to provide funding to establish or expand programs that divert adults with a serious mental illness (SMI) or a co-occurring disorder (COD) from the criminal justice system to community-based services. Below are the necessary requirements for applicants:
- Assemble an interagency "Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnership" comprised of the criminal justice system, mental health, and substance use treatment systems.
- Develop a comprehensive evidence-based plan that addresses the following 3 stages of early diversion for persons with SMI or COD:
- Encounter: The process law enforcement uses to determine who is appropriate for diversion.
- Enable: The protocols for members of law enforcement to access and transfer the individuals.
- Engage: Identification and provision of the treatment.
- Integrate the early diversion program into an existing system of care
Eligible activities may include:
- Professional training for those involved in the various agencies that make up the system of care.
- Community outreach and crisis intervention.
- Expanding existing community-based mental health and substance use disorder services to accommodate the diversion program.
Applying to the Program
Eligible applicants are Native American tribes and tribal organizations, state and local governments, and consortia. At least one fully licensed mental health provider with at least two years of experience providing relevant services must be involved in the project. A preapplication webinar will be held on Friday, February 16, 2018. The deadline is March 5, 2018.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police's One Mind Campaign to Improve Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness provides policy, best practices, toolkits, training courses, and other online resources in order to increase collaboration between relevant agencies: Learn More.
The Stepping Up Initiative, a collaboration between the National Association of Counties (NACo), The Justice Center at the Council of State Governments, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation also raises awareness, provides resources, and encourages action steps to change the pathway from incarceration to treatment for persons with mental illness. Learn More.