SCOTT CO., Iowa (KWQC) – ‘So far, so good’ is the slogan being used for Scott County’s Mental Health Court.
Screenings to get into the program started Aug. 1, 2016 now three people reaping its benefits. But this is not the county’s first swing at the program.
“This was attempted in 2009,” said District Court Judge Mark Smith.
Judge Smith said one thing was missing seven years ago.
“The reason it didn’t succeed is because we didn’t have the community’s support,” Judge Smith said.
This time around things are different.
“A task force was organized last year that addressed this issue and since we do have the support of the community at this point, that’s the difference,” the Judge said.
Quad Cities Interfaith spearheaded the effort.
“We are very excited and honored to lead the charge,” said QCI Executive Director Leslie Kilgannon.
She said Scott County is fortunate to provide this mental health service.
“Our state is well behind the national average in mental health dollars and services,” Kilgannon said.
For 19 years, Judge Smith has watched people suffering from mental illness cycle in and out of his courtroom.
“They usually want to get out of that cycle because they’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.
Judge Smith said he’s happy to see people getting the right help.
“I think the participant so far are making good progress,” he said.
The first two mental health court participants were approved in mid-August. The third joined the week of Sept. 5.
Judge Smith said there have been a few bumps in the road, but overall things are going well.
“So far we have not rejected anyone who was initially allowed into the mental health court process,” Judge Smith said.
Now the focus is getting the right people into the program.
“We’re hoping to have 15-20 participants,” Judge Smith said.
As well as making sure Mental Health Court sticks around.
“We are in the process of investigating government grants to further this program,” Judge Smith said.
“I think when we demonstrate how effective it is we’ll create the political will to get this done permanently,” Kilgannon said.
There are criteria people need to meet to get into the program. Participants must have a diagnosed mental illness, be charged with a non-violent or non-sexual crime, and be willing to make lifestyle changes.