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MHMR work to keep mentally ill out of jail


The Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center is implementing a new program to help keep the mentally disabled out of McLennan County jail.

The MHMR created a Forensic Assertive Community Treatment team (FACT) to help those people stay out of the criminal justice system.

The team will take over the old Waco juvenile runaway facility for office space. McLennan county commissioners approved the move Tuesday.

MHMR received funding for an 1115 transformation program grant to sponsor eight new projects. The fact team is just one of their new projects.

MHMR adult mental health director Tom Thomas said they target individuals who have mental health problems and a criminal history.

"A lot of the individuals are often times homeless, often times they have substance abuse as well as mental health issues [and] are treatment resistant," said Thomas.

According to Thomas there are currently more than a hundred people in the McLennan county jail with mental health issues.

Commissioner Kelly Snell says the mentally ill don't get the treatment they need in jail.

"The jail is really not the place to have people that have a mental issue. It's just the only place they have to put them right now.

Because they can't really get the help they need. And I really fill that with MHMR working these people maybe we can get them on a road to recovery," said Snell.

The fact team is made up of therapists, nurses and psychiatrists who go out into the community to work with these people. The new office space will allow them to expand the program to help 45 to 50 people at a time. Those who need more intense care will be housed at the MHMR crisis triage center.

Commissioner Snell says programs like fact are important for the community.

"I think this it's something that we needed. It's something that I totally support and I appreciate MHMR stepping up to take care of that service for us,' said Snell.

Thomas says this is a preventative program and is cheaper than housing the mentally disabled in jail.

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