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Mental Health Services Expanding

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EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County Public Health is getting ready to expand its mental health services and a multi-million dollar grant is helping bring new programs to the county’s behavioral health program.

This $2.4 million dollars will be split into six different areas, all working toward early intervention to help those suffering from mental illness.

Mental health issues are often said to be the cause of mass tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting and even those closer to home, like the shooting death of Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen.

“The person who shot him as it turns out with an early intervention and assessment potentially could have been prevented from actually purchasing the gun that she shot him with,” said Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr.

Lane County Public Health is working to cut down on the tragedy and problems associated with mental health by early intervention. “One of them is a jail diversion grant which means we’ll be doing some in reach to local jails, providing a warm hand-off for people who are diagnosed with mental illness and make sure they get into treatment,” said Katharine Schneider, Lane County Behavioral Health unit division manager.

Now with the help of $2.4 million dollars in grants this goal is coming to fruition. “It’s truly something we’ve dreamed about for years,” said Schneider.

“They come in five basic areas. We’re going to look at early assessment as far as mental health issues are concerned. We’re going to look at keeping people out of jail, working within the mental health system to keep people out of jail,” said Farr.

Not only will these grants be used to help those committing misdemeanors, but also at risk youth. “We’ve already started school based service, and we are sending out folks, clinicians from Lane County Behavioral Health into different school based health centers to provide counseling,” said Schneider.

The goal of these programs is to spread awareness about mental health issues in the county and get help to those who need it.

Some of the funding will also be used to expand Cahoots, a mobile crisis intervention center, to Springfield. Public Health will also be starting a campaign to spread awareness and cut down on the stigma of mental illness.

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