Time to find solution for mental health patients

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 5, 2018

Adams County has experienced a mental health, housing crisis for more than a decade. We must find a solution soon before more people get hurt.

The problem has become exacerbated in the last few years, as budget cuts to the state’s own mental health facilities have left the system with fewer resources.

An increasing number of families find themselves with a relative who is spiraling out of control and endangering themselves or others. In many cases, they have no place to turn to for help.

Email newsletter signup

Their only choice is to do what everyone does when no other place to turn seems to exist — call the county sheriff’s office for help.

Sheriff’s deputies will answer the call, but that’s where the problem starts. In Adams County, few options of where to temporarily house people with mental illness exist.

So we put them in an isolated cell at the county jail. In the majority of cases, they have broken no crimes, but we have no place to safely house them and get them stabilized.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten pointed out the problem this week to the Adams County Board of Supervisors and suggested possibly renovating a portion of the county jail to create a place to house these people.

That’s a Band-Aid solution, but it’s not a good one. Ultimately, neither the sheriff’s office nor its jailers are properly equipped to house and care for these people.

Such detainees need the help of mental health professionals.

We urge local leaders to pool resources with other nearby communities and find a way to build or create a functioning facility to give family’s peace of mind and to keep our community safe.