The Morgan County Commission has agreed to join a national program to help improve mental health treatment of inmates at the county jail.
Bill Giguere, development director with the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama, told commissioners Tuesday morning that the Stepping Up Initiative would allow the center to hire a case manager to coordinate between the Morgan County Jail, Decatur Morgan Hospital and other county hospitals to help identify and communicate about those who have a mental illness.
Giguere said his department serves about 4,000 people in north-central Alabama on an annual basis.
Commission Chairman Ray Long said the implementation of the program will not cost the county any money.
Giguere said the program will be a more efficient means of using limited funding directed toward mental health.
“The sheriff can’t tell you which one of her inmates needing mental health assistance is receiving service once they leave the jail,” Giguere said. “Decatur Morgan Hospital can tell you how many people they see in the emergency room with mental health issues, but they can’t tell you if we’re seeing them or how to get them to us. … The purpose of this project is to create a framework so the mental health center, the jail and the hospitals can communicate effectively and build an infrastructure to identify these individuals who have a mental health disorder so we can better use our limited resources to get help for these people.”