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Lane County Tackles Mental Health Issues

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EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County is taking major steps to help more people gain access to mental health services by earning a $500,000 training grant to tackle the issue.

Lane County Behavioral Health Services Manager Katharine Schneider says many of those who frequent the Lane County Jail may share something in common.

“People with a mental health diagnosis are very over represented in the jails,” said Schneider.

Schneider says about 60 percent of inmates have a behavioral or mental health diagnosis and treatment is key in integrating them back into society, which is where the new training grant comes into play.

“Entry you know as people go through and as people are discharged from the legal system, so we’ll be focusing on the beginning part,” said Schneider.

While this training will hone in on providing a better treatment model for those behind bars, Schneider says mental issues are far reaching and those who need help may also be involved in other issues facing Lane County like substance abuse and homelessness.

“But we would like to instead of waiting to treat people or waiting until they’re feeling stable, or waiting until they’re clean and sober and then finding housing is not necessarily the way to go,” said Schneider.

Schneider says it comes full circle and other mental health professionals like Jeremy Jalabert agree — the training grant will enable the county to focus on the root of the problem.

“There’s a lot of compassion for bringing us to a place where we’re actually getting people the kind of treatment that they need and getting away from this idea of incarceration as treatment,” said Jalabert.

Lane County is one of six communities in the nation to receive the federal grant.

That training is next Tuesday — in addition to mental health officials, a number of political leaders and law enforcement are expected to attend.

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