Vigo County officials discuss additional mental health resources for those in the court, correctional system

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Tuesday during a Vigo County Council meeting, some local court officials discussed a program that would provide additional mental health resources for those in the court or correctional system.

According to Vigo County Circuit Judge Sarah Mullican, providing mental health services to those that come through the jail or court system can sometimes take weeks.

“Anecdotally some of the things we’ve seen is maybe making an appointments or referring people for treatment, it may be take 30, 60, 90 days to have an assessment,” Mullican said.

Vigo County’s director of court services says in these types of situations that time is key.

“The need for quick treatment and assessment is the key factor in keeping them from re-offending and going back to jail and ending up in the court system,” Bill Watson, Vigo County director of court services, said.

To provide mental health resources earlier, Tuesday during budget discussions at a Vigo County council meeting, Mullican and Watson requested funds for a nurse practitioner and therapist who could help assess mental health issues immediately while they are in jail.

“Having them assess for mental health and substance abuse while they’re there and then being referred to a forensic nurse practitioner to be medicated if necessary,” Mullican said.

Watson said more extensive treatment would then continue at community based programs like work-release.

Officials said the program will not only be a benefit to those receiving the treatment, but also other county programs and offices.

“It’s a population that continues to take great resources from our correctional systems, court systems, law enforcement, everyone. In turn, it takes away from other needs and areas of importance as well,” Watson said.

The county council did not take any action on the program Tuesday, but Watson said if the funding does come available he would like to see the program begin by the start of next year.

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