Partnerships are key between jail and mental health community

Renae Butcher and Denny Moell, of Child Focus’s Mobile Crisis Team. Their work is funded by MHRB.

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 24, 2017) — Partnerships are crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health issues among inmates at the County Jail, said Administrator Joe Palmer.

“I don’t know how we could operate now without our wonderful partners,” he said.

Those partners include the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, whose levy funds the Mobile Crisis Team. (Mobile Crisis is operated by Child Focus Inc.) Renae Butcher, a social worker from Mobile Crisis, is now working full time at the jail, helping to assess inmates who appear to be dealing with a mental illness.

The Mobile Crisis Team also assists the Mental Health and Recovery Board in providing Crisis Intervention Training to law enforcement and corrections officers in Clermont County, teaching them through role-playing and other exercises how to react to and work with those who show signs of mental illness when they are responding to a call, or encounter them in jail. At least 60% of corrections officers have completed the training.

Another partner is Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCB), which has two locations in Clermont County, one for mental health services in Amelia and the Clermont Recovery Center for addiction services in Batavia.

Recently, a memorandum of understanding between the County Jail and GCB allows the sharing of a database between the two. This allows corrections officers to determine whether a new inmate is a GCB client. “Joe Smith comes in, we put him in our system and cross-check with GCB,” Palmer says, giving an example. “We notify GCB – Joe Smith is here, you can come see him. Now we know what medications he needs, we know what his particular mental health issue is. It’s a win-win for everybody.” (A legal opinion from the Hamilton County Prosecutor said this did not violate doctor-patient privilege.)

“If you have mental health issues, you do not leave here without a referral to Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services,” Palmer added. “A case worker will come here to see you before your discharge. We’re doing our very best to make sure that your mental health needs are provided for.”

A grant just awarded to MHRB from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has allowed for Butcher’s position to move from part-time to full-time at the jail, and will allow GCB to hire a full-time case manager to work with inmates upon their release from jail, connecting them to treatment options.