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Governor Approves $3.5 Million to Beef Up NV Mental Health Services

PHOTO: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says he will direct millions of dollars in new funding to the state's Department of Health and Human Services to address what some people are calling a mental health crisis. Photo courtesy Gov. Sandoval's office.
PHOTO: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says he will direct millions of dollars in new funding to the state's Department of Health and Human Services to address what some people are calling a mental health crisis. Photo courtesy Gov. Sandoval's office.
June 20, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Gov. Brian Sandoval says he will direct $3.5 million in new funding to mental-health services to help reduce the need for hospital emergency rooms and jails to treat and house people with mental illness.

Sandoval said he agrees with all the recommendations made by the Behavioral Health and Wellness Council. Dr. Joel Dvoskin, who chairs the council, said Sandoval's action will create a Mobile Outreach Safety Team, to partner with law enforcement to address mental-health crises on the streets.

"The overcrowding in the emergency rooms in Southern Nevada ... was both giving inappropriate care in some cases to people with mental illness and clogging up the emergency department," Dvoskin said.

The core problem, he said, is that those with untreated mental illness often seek help in emergency rooms or end up in jail. Dvoskin said the funding also will add housing for people with mental illness, which he said should save the state money in other areas.

"Not only did you get a place to live for the person, but you also would predictably get fewer arrests, fewer jail days, fewer in-patient days, and fewer emergency room visits," he said. "Each of those things has a cost savings assigned to it."

Dvoskin said Nevada is among many states that have limited mental health services and programs following major cutbacks made during the recession.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV