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NAMHC has been instrumental in making great strides to mental health in North Alabama. In addition to getting the County and City to each fund a mental health case worker for the Madison County Jail, SVdP/NAMHC with the help of a grant from the Lowe Foundation, was able to open a 10-bed Jail Diversion Unit. The Jail Diversion Program identifies detainees who are eligible for release, either under supervision or directly to the community, who have continuing mental health care needs. The goal of the program is to reduce the recidivism rate many mental health consumers experience due to the inability to access the continuum of care, post incarceration. Under this program, case managers are assigned to inmates based upon input from Community Corrections, the Madison County Jail, the Huntsville Police Chief, the Madison County Sheriff, the Huntsville Municipal Judge, and the Madison County Circuit Judge. Currently, mentally ill inmates compose 20-25% of the overall Madison County jail population.
Over the years, law enforcement has played a major role in improving the plight of the seriously mentally ill in North Alabama. In October 2018, the Huntsville Police Department received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Association/Valor Program, one of only four such grants awarded in the Nation, to train its police officers in Crisis Intervention (CIT). Over 50 officers have been trained, and the program continues to expand. CIT officers are already making a difference in the care and treatment of the seriously mentally ill. NAMHC is very proud and thankful for the partnership we have with our local law enforcement.
On October 29, 2020, Governor Kay Ivey announced that Huntsville would be awarded one of only three new Crisis Centers in the State of Alabama. This is a major achievement that we all have striven for over the last several years. Wellstone, formerly Madison County Mental Health Center, will operate the center. The Crisis Center will have a total of 39 beds, and a tele-health triage unit staffed 24/7 to handle calls from law enforcement, hospitals, etc. Many thanks to Wellstone’s CEO Jeremy Blair and his staff for putting together the proposal to the State that won Huntsville the place for a Crisis Center.
The History of NAMHC is made up of so many stakeholders in our community that have, and are, making a difference. We continue to meet, identify gaps in the system, and work toward solutions. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 11:00 am in the community room at Wellstone. The meetings are open to anyone who is concerned with the seriously mentally ill and wishes to make a positive impact.