- Associated Press - Saturday, March 7, 2015

WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) - A central Kentucky county has started a mental health court in an effort to get more help to those who need it.

The Winchester Sun (https://bit.ly/1KeemGy) reports the program will be similar to the already established drug court.

“It’s taking mental health out of the criminal justice setting and giving these people an opportunity” to get treatment, Clark District Judge Earl-Ray Neal said.

Referrals can come from a variety of sources, including law enforcement and medical staff at the Clark County Detention Center.

Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas said a team of 20 people from the legal, law enforcement and mental health professions will consider a variety of factors, including the severity of a crime, before deciding whether to accept a referral.



“We’ve actually hired a mental health coordinator whose job is to make an initial contact once the referral is made,” Thomas said. That person, Betty Bryant, will gather and present background information to the team before they make a decision.

Thomas said officials will keep up with a multitude of things, including whether the person pays any restitution, takes prescribed medication, attends doctor appointments and has stable living conditions.

He said mental health court is structured, but not as intense as drug court. Participants will have to meet certain requirements, including regular appearances before Neal.

“We want to maintain a healthy mental state with these people,” Thomas said. “We have an opportunity for a little more positive treatment.”

Clark County’s mental health docket was officially announced last week after being in the works for months.

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Information from: The Winchester (Ky.) Sun, https://www.centralkynews.com/winchestersun

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