Arkansas mental health centers behind schedule
Oct. 16, 2017
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas counties expected to sponsor mental health centers are behind schedule.
The effort is aimed at keeping people with mental illnesses from a cycle of incarceration. Some progress has been made, but the centers won't be ready for their expected startup date in November, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
According to the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center, the state ranks among the lowest nationwide for access to public psychiatric beds. The group said last year's data showed that about 75,300 of the state's adult residents has either schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder. A little under half of those residents go untreated.
Kathryn Griffin, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's justice reinvestment coordinator, said counties are working to open the centers "as soon as possible," though no new projected target date scheduled.
Pulaski, Sebastian, Craighead and Washington counties will supply and maintain the 16-bed crisis-stabilization centers. The state will reimburse them for operation costs.
"It's a complicated process with a lot of moving parts, and Pulaski County is still in the process of hammering out the final details," said Justin Blagg, director of the county Quorum Court services.
Under the program, police will be able to take people experiencing mental health episodes to the centers instead of county jails. The goal is for the centers to help the mentally ill and cut jail costs.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com