Shelby County seeks extra funding for mental health court

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee county’s mental health court has reached capacity in just a few months and is asking the state for additional funding.

The Commercial Appeal reports the extra funding would double the number of people served by Shelby County’s mental health court, from about 25 to 50 people.

The court opened in late January to provide wraparound services for people with mental illnesses who chronically wind up in jail.

Martha Lott, director of the county’s community services division, says the county has asked the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for $78,000 to pay for a full-time case worker to handle the increased load.

County Mayor Mark Luttrell says mental health court doesn’t excuse criminal behavior, but works to address the needs of mentally ill defendants.