Arlington, VA

Arlington County has accepted a grant that will help expand the county’s Behavioral Health Docket program — a service that diverts people with mental illnesses into treatment rather into jail.

The program accepts people who have diagnosed mental illnesses and have been charged with misdemeanors. Last November, a requirement for those in the program to plead guilty was eliminated.

The $146,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services will primarily go to funding a full-time therapist position for two years. According to the staff report:

The position will assist program participants in developing and enhancing skills related to self-care, physical wellness, development of family and peer leisure pursuits, conflict resolution, stress management, positive peer modeling, developing a greater level of independence, improving treatment compliance, and increasing access to recreational groups and self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous). Projected caseload for this position is 16-20 clients based on benchmarking and past experience.

“[This is] going to expand the behavioral health docket program services,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey, “something advocated for and needed for quite a while.”

The staff report says that other parts of the grant funding will go to:

  • Medications
  • Group materials
  • Emergency housing placements
  • Transportation
  • Cell phones
  • Incentives
  • Clothing
  • Obtaining proper identification cards
  • Behavioral intervention consultation

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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