Fort Bend County continues to find ways to handle its citizens dealing with mental illness and substance abuse, and the latest effort looks to deal with those suffering while incarcerated.

Fort Bend County commissioners approved to an application to the Bureau of Justice for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program to get a grant of $445,082 to provide resources to those with mental illness and all kinds of substance abuses. If the application is approved, the county will match it within 20%.

“This grant is a major opportunity for us in Fort Bend County if we can get it,” County Judge KP George said.

“Our office and the Behavioral Services Department have worked countless hours working on it, and if we receive it, the funds would go to those individuals in the justice system who have discernable mental illness and substance abuse disorders, including opioids and other difficulties.”

According to the county, the number of individuals in the Fort Bend County jail with a mental illness or substance abuse problem increased in the past year, with 19% in 2018 to 34% in the first quarter of 2019. About 88% of them are male.

County leaders and local mental health providers created the Fort Bend County Criminal Justice Mental Health Initiative to help find gaps in services and identify problems in the justice system that those with mental and substance issues face.

But the initiative does need more funding, and if the grant is awarded, it would go toward more plans and more detection methods to those who are vulnerable in the system.

The county would hire a project manager and a case manager specialist who would help with diversion plans and care plans for those who need treatment.

“This is an example of working hard and trying to find money to support our community better, especially that community,” George said.

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