BRIGHTON - Mental health issues have long lurked in the corners and taken up cots in jail cells everywhere.
"Twenty five years ago the mindset would have been 'Lock them up, or restrain them in a manner to keep them from harming themselves or others'."
Adams County Sheriff's Office Division Chief Roger Kelley points out that attitude is changing.
"The culture of the jails is about helping those folks with mental health issues, to reintegrate them into society and hopefully keep them from coming back," he said.
Kelley says at the Adams County Detention Facility, a staff of just 13 people handles more than 4,000 behavioral health appointments each month.
Space for those sessions is tight. They happen in the medical unit, already crammed with inmates suffering from gunshot wounds and overdoses.
"It is incredibly crowded," Kelley said. "Those cells that are designed to hold two people generally hold four. "
Deputies hope a $3.2 million renovation will change that.
Come November, a brand new unit dedicated only to mental health treatment will be up and running.
The plan is also to add one million dollars in staffing: 10 more deputies and two nursing assistants for full days of therapy and group sessions.
"There's an opportunity to stabilize these individuals through systems in our detention systems," Kelley said.
Adams County deputies say they usually have about one thousand inmates staying there on any given day -up to 35 percent of them have mental health needs.
Deputies hope the new unit will give those inmates a better chance to function in society when they return.
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