Community leaders meet to address mental health and substance abuse issues

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — Community leaders are coming together to help those suffering with mental illness and substance abuse issues.

Eight locations across the country have been chosen to participate in a unique collaboration effort.

“Better meet the needs of people with serious mental illnesses, and co-occurring substance abuse disorders,” clinical social worker Michele Saunders said.

Jackson-Madison County received the grant from the SAMHSA Gains Center.

Wednesday was day two of the meeting.

“They’re helping us pool and get our focus that can better serve us as a collaborative, but also serve the people,” Madison County Sheriff John Mehr said.

During the meeting, they discussed their three top priorities: promising practices, assessment tools and case management models.

And officials say the ultimate goal of this meeting is to reduce the recidivism here in Madison County.

“What we’ve learned is the recidivism rate is about 85%. What we want to do is put interventions in place, get that number down,” said Richard Barber of Aspell Recovery Center.

Over the next year, assessors from the Gains institute will visit and facilitate these meetings in hopes of more collaboration.

“When a community works together, they can get more resources into the community for the benefit of community citizens that have mental illnesses and substance abuse issues, because they are your community members,” Saunders said.

Sheriff Mehr says he hopes these meetings help him and the deputies serve the residents of Madison County and help change their mindsets of people with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues.

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