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Butte Health officials to focus efforts on addressing mental health issues in the community

Posted at 11:02 AM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 13:02:34-04

BUTTE - Addressing mental health issues is a priority for health officials in Butte.

It’s an issue that’s not just a problem in the Mining City.

“Invariably throughout Montana you’ll find mental health issues at the top of the health needs list,” said Butte Health Director Karen Sullivan.

The city has a $100,000 Frequent Users System Engagement grant to develop supportive housing for people with chronic mental health and homelessness issues, who often tax the local services.

“They’re using the ER inappropriately, the jail, and our crisis systems as well,” said Sullivan.

Often, places like the emergency room or the Butte Detention Center end up taking people in that are suffering a mental health issue.

“Being mentally ill is not a crime, so being jailed isn’t an appropriate place to put people other than if there is no place to put them and you detain them for their safety,” said Sullivan.

Health officials say it will take time to put these procedures in place, but they are confident they’ll see a positive outcome.

“It’s going to take quite a while to see changes there and each one of these grants that we’re talking about will take a piece of that and you’re going to see improvement as time goes on,” said St. James HealthCare President Jay Doyle.

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