Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales announced today's launch of a new program to help those who suffer from mental illness.
This morning, Canales announced Nueces County is teaming up with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to conduct a countywide mental health assessment over the next six months. They will review all inpatient and outpatient services offered in Nueces County.
Canales said the group's findings will help county leaders figure out how to help those who suffer from mental issues.
"We've never done it before," Canales said. "It might expose that we have some gaps. That's okay because that will be the truth but what we do know is that we have amazing organizations that have dedicated decades of work in this arena. So we're going to get to see where we're strong, where we need some attention and how we can put it all together."
Canales explained that the group will also look into how many mental health patients are in our jail.
"In addition, we're specifically focusing on jail diversion as a separate effort and that to me is very impactful because when we can make our jails no longer psych wards, it will help the taxpayer and more importantly help those people who are suffering from mental illness and have no business in jail in the first place," Canales said.
State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa attended this morning's news conference. He told reporters today's announcement was exciting news.
"For many years, we have ignored the issue of mental health. We have used in many occasions, unfortunately prisons and jails to house people who are mentally ill and should not be incarcerated. So, this is really an exciting day," Hinojosa said.
The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute will wrap up their assessment in March 2020.