Montgomery County reports increasing numbers of mental health cases and calls

Montgomery County officials presented a report outlining the county’s increase in reported mental health cases at the July 26 Court of Commissioners meeting. Commissioners were not asked to take immediate action, nor did they take a vote.

District Attorney B. D. Griffin presented the report, while Police Department 1 Constable Philip Cash and Lieutenant Brian Lawley provided an update to the Crisis Intervention Team unit, which received an expansion in August 2021. The Griffin and Cash units were funded using U.S. Bailout Act funds.

We are already starting to see rapid increases [from 2016]Griffin said.

Griffin said community impact journal That cases were a combination of admissions, coercive drug orders and emergency mental health detention orders, which are used when a patient is believed to be at risk of harming themselves or others as defined by the Texas Health and Safety Act.

Total county cases increased annually from 2016 to 21 from 341 to 1,359, an increase of nearly 300%. So far in 2022, 1,102 cases have been reported in Montgomery County, and Griffin said he believes the number could exceed 1,800 by the end of the year.

The average number of cases per day rose from 3.5 in 2019 to 8 in 2022. Griffin said his staff were optimistic that relaxing COVID-19 protocols would ease mental health stress, but acknowledged that economic concerns may have continued to grow. Nonprofits in the region are reporting an increase in demand for their services during the pandemic, community impact journal Previously mentioned.

Mark Keogh, a Montgomery County Judge, wondered if the “flow” of cases was coming from Harris County. Griffin said he did not have specific numbers but stressed that these cases were not related to crimes.

“We have problems every week with the emergency rooms, with not enough beds in the facilities,” Griffin said. “[Patients] Can not be released, which generates [case numbers]. “

Griffin has suggested increasing the number of staff dealing with issues in his office when budgeting workshops begin August 2. He said the staff consists of a full-time lawyer and two paralegals, but a further increase in cases could add “pressure” to those units.

“I prepared the budget without any staffing increases, but looking at the numbers — but if we want to fund a position with ARPA — we can do it,” Griffin said.

James Nowak, commissioner for District Three, said he is opposed to funding more positions with ARPA, calling it “not smart.”

Constables call report increases

Cash provided an update on behalf of the Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Unit in District One. He said the unit received 4,783 calls from January to June this year, already surpassing the 4,765 calls received in the whole of 2021.

According to Cash statistics, calls to mental health services increased from 1,252 in 2017 to 4,765 in 2021. The unit is expected to receive 9,566 calls to the service by the end of 2022, an increase of 101% over 2021.

“This will come on the first anniversary of the ARPA funding you have all generously given to help us support our community by increasing mental health calls from COVID[-19]Cash said. “So far this year, from January to June, we’ve already outgrown who we are [received] last year.”

Criticism also provided data showing calls by type. The most popular category for calls from January to June was the Diversity Crisis Intervention Team, which consists of check-ins with citizens who have recently experienced mental health issues as well as those who have recently completed outpatient visits with Tri-County Behavioral Health, a federally qualified center the health. These calls made up half of this year’s total, Cash said, although he noted that ARPA funds allow officers to increase their frequency.

More than a quarter of calls were classified as Crisis Intervention Team responses, which includes the unit’s response to office calls or 911 messages for individuals with mental health emergencies, including suicidal thoughts and actions as well as overdose.

Cash said the unit is also invited to move some patients to Harris County facilities, where they are staying. He said the unit is responding to calls around the Kingwood area where the two counties share a border.

Qash asked where he thinks the future of Unity lies. Cash said he believes “there is more education to be done.”

“We need to keep working to show people that we’re here to help,” Cash said. “If people see something, please contact us.”