The Lewis and Clark County Commission has accepted a grant aimed at improving the county’s behavioral health system.
The Montana Healthcare Foundation is providing $78,598 for one year. The money will go toward hiring a specialist who will analyze the current system and work on a new plan for responding to mental health crises.
Lewis and Clark Public Health will be the lead agency for the project. Lewis and Clark County, the county sheriff’s office, St. Peter’s Health, Shodair Children’s Hospital and PureView Health Center will partner with them.
The project will focus on “crisis diversion” – deescalating crises in hopes of reducing the impact on services like the emergency room, law enforcement and the detention center.
Leaders say the partner organizations have met several times in recent months, and they are all committed to finding better ways to provide behavioral health services.
“It takes that pressure off of us as a sole entity trying to do this,” said county commissioner Andy Hunthausen. “We have great people, but we’re not a mental health center. We need to share that with the people in the community, organizations in the community, that do this on a regular basis.”
Leaders said these organizations will work to jointly support and fund the specialist position after the one-year grant expires.