Helmsley grant aims to help with mental health issues West River

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Pennington County Health and Human Services received a $117,000 grant which they will use to gather information about behavioral and mental health in the area.

Partnering with the National Council on Behavioral Health they will begin the study within the next month to find out what the needs in the community are for behavioral and mental health issues. Different organizations such as Regional Health Hospital and Behavior Management Systems actively work to find ways to help at-risk people with mental health issues stay out of jail.

"Unfortunately the jail's in this country have become some of the largest providers of mental health services and there's too many people mental health services are being diverted into the criminal justice system and there's probably a better alternatives," says Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom.

While there are places such as the Care Campus and facilities in hospitals that provide assistance to those who need it, some people need more treatment that can only be provided at a facility like the Human Services Center in Yankton, South Dakota. With no closer facility people then have to leave their home and their support group of friends and family to receive treatment. If the information the research group gathers shows that a new facility would be beneficial that potential new facility could provide more options and space for those who need treatment West River.

"We feel that if services can be improved and other options might be identified locally then we can reduce the need to send people so far away from their home," says Barry Tice, director of Pennington County Health and Human Services.

The study will begin within the next month and is expected to be complete by next fall.