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The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) announced this week the expansion of a successful program to divert people from jail into mental health treatment services.

Pathways Behavioral Health, Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System and Morgan County Government have been recommended for grants through the pre-arrest diversion infrastructure – capital grants program.

The Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $1.5 million in one-time, non-recurring funding for pre-arrest diversion capital grants in the FY20 budget. The goal of pre-arrest diversion is to reduce or eliminate the time individuals with mental health, substance use or co-occurring disorders spend incarcerated by redirecting them from the criminal justice system to community-based treatment and supports.

Applicants were asked to focus on rural, underserved and distressed areas of the state, with emphasis on local community investment to sustain programming after the capital grant. Selected agencies have designed programs to serve residents of at least 11 rural counties, including two distressed counties.

Grant recommendations were made by TDMHSAS, in consultation with the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration and will be administered by the state Department of General Services. After approval by the State Building Commission, each of the three grantees will receive $500,000 to implement the program they designed for their communities. Designs include:



·         Pathways Behavioral Health, part of West Tennessee Healthcare: Crisis services, including a walk-in-center and crisis stabilization unit located in Humboldt, to connect clients to treatment and services for Gibson, Crockett, Dyer, Obion, Lake, Weakley, Benton, Carroll and Haywood counties

·         Volunteer/Hiwassee Mental Health Center: Crisis services, including a walk-in-center, crisis stabilization unit and respite located in Cleveland to serve Bradley and surrounding counties

·         Morgan County Government: In partnership with Ridgeview Behavioral Health, the facility for co-located community services in Wartburg, Morgan County



In the initial round of grants, seven grantees received funding to create or expand jail diversion options in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Cookeville, Jackson, and Morristown. In-state fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19, pre-arrest diversion sites connected 7,180 people with mental health treatment instead of incarceration at an estimated savings of more than $9.8 million to local partners. Many of these individuals who walk in or are dropped off at these centers otherwise would have had to go to a hospital emergency department.

In addition, more than 4,500 law enforcement officers and nearly 800 behavioral health professionals received training.

To learn more about pre-arrest diversion efforts in Tennessee, click here.

For more information, contact Mike Dietrich at THA, 615-401-7459,





James Ross

President and CEO

West TN Healthcare

620 Skyline Drive

Jackson, TN 38301