Motivated by the growing mental health crisis, photographer Lili Kobielski set out in 2015 to capture portraits of the inmates, now compiled in the book I Refuse for the Devil to Take My Soul, which was released in December and includes transcripts of their interviews, plus poems they wrote during their incarceration.
Mental Health Media Clips
An experimental mental-health and addiction treatment program that has shown early success in combating the opioid crisis is at risk of losing its federal funding. An estimated 9,000 patients could lose access to medication-assisted treatment, and 3,000 clinic jobs could be lost if the funding is not renewed, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Like law enforcement agencies everywhere, the St. Paul Police Department gets a lot of calls for mental health crises, which take a lot of officers’ time and cost a lot of money. So far this year, Ramsey County dispatchers have handled almost 6,000 calls involving mental health. That’s about 2 percent of incoming 911 calls.
Like most cities around the country Norfolk does not have money pouring in for mental health services. Last year, the legislature rejected a request by the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, which takes many of Norfolk’s sickest inmates, for an additional $5 million in funding. But not all fixes take a lot of money.
Since joining Stepping Up, both Douglas and Champaign counties in Kansas have implemented mental health screenings in jail to get beyond guesswork and make more informed decisions about the strategies needed to have a measurable impact on the number of people with mental illnesses in their jails. Both counties were also named Stepping Up Innovator Counties for their recent efforts to accurately identify people with serious mental illnesses and collect related data.
One goal for the coming year is to get housing involved in the Stepping Up initiative, said Melissa Klass, Assertive Community Treatment team leader for Berryhill Center mental health clinic in Webster County, Iowa. “I think stable housing is a big concern in this community,” Klass said. “More and more people are living in unsafe conditions.”
Throughout the country, in places as diverse as Tucson, Miami, and Milwaukee, people are finding ways to get those with diseases such as schizophrenia, PTSD, and bipolar disorder the help they need rather than locking them up. Common among all approaches is a willingness to address the problem across systems—from the courtroom to the jail to treatment and housing.
The new, $52 million jail opened this fall in Moorhead with 209 beds. Its 18-bed behavioral health unit is in the back of the building. Soundproofing helps keep the noise down, and inmates housed there can get mental health care without leaving the unit.
Under new guidelines, states will be able to apply for the ability to use Medicaid reimbursement for psychiatric care provided in treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, which is currently prohibited by the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion.
Of the 44 cases the unit responded to between July and October, only four resulted in hospitalization. None of the calls resulted in someone being taken to jail.