Montgomery County Sees Increase in Mental Health Calls Since Mental Health Unit Established

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Montgomery County has been getting more calls related to mental health issues since commissioners created a new mental health unit in 2021 with federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

After commissioners pledged to focus on the growing mental health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Precinct 1 Constable Philip Cash said mental health calls have increased, but noted that this was due to MPs carrying out more follow-up checks with patients.

In July 2021, commissioners approved 10 new positions for Cash as well as another position in the county attorney’s office to deal with the growing number of mental health cases in the county. The county funded these positions through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Additionally, in August 2021, the court agreed to award up to $6 million in ARPA funds to help restore Tri-County sanity in eastern Montgomery County.

ARPA has provided $1.9 trillion in federal dollars nationwide to help recover from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The county received $57 million in 2021 and will receive an additional $57 million in 2022.

“The funds you provided to our office are well spent,” Cash told the commissioners. “It took us a while to find some really great employees, but we’re full ARPA deputies. It’s working for our community.

Cash said in 2021 his department received 4,765 mental health calls. Since January, the department has received 4,785 calls. Of those calls, 2,591 were from assistants monitoring patients, Cash said.

“It’s demanding,” he said, adding that deputies had made 916 court-ordered transport calls, including from hospitals to mental health facilities and bringing patients to court. “We have seen an influx of Harris County patients brought into our hospitals. We have to follow orders to know where to take them.

Cash said on some days, up to eight people were waiting to be taken to a facility somewhere in the Houston area.

“We are not exhausting Montgomery County officers, but we will take them one by one to where they need to go.”

County Attorney BD Griffin said his office also saw mental health cases rise from 341 in 2016 to 1,359 in 2021. Griffin said so far this year there have been 1,102 cases , putting the county on track to reach 1,800 cases by the end of the year. .

The cases, he said, are orders for detention, preventive detention and/or enforcement drugs.

“We’re seeing an influx and no decrease, unfortunately,” Griffin said. “We were hoping that COVID would come later and later that we would see some decrease, but so far that hasn’t translated to that this year.”

The commissioners supported Cash’s efforts and said they are currently considering using the remaining ARPA funds to continue the county’s efforts to address mental health.

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