Westchester County Department of Correction opens new unit to support mental health treatment

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

VALHALLA, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Westchester County Department of Corrections has unveiled a new housing unit to support inmates struggling with mental health issues.

The new Acute Mental Health Unit (AMHU) is designed to help inmates with mental health concerns and co-occurring disorders begin a path towards recovery while incarcerated. 

Corrections Commissioner Joseph Spano says the unit will promote both safety and recovery.

“The challenges associated with treating individuals with serious mental health problems has increased, and with that in mind, we wanted to go next level and do something to help these individuals get to a place where they can function in their community when they leave here,” he explains. “These individuals have such significant problems."

The unit can support up to 12 residents, each of whom will receive individualized treatment plans.

“The AMHU will serve as a win-win for both our residents and staff at the facility, allowing our inmates to receive the care they need while streamlining the process of their recovery,” Spano said.

The unit is designed to provide enhanced observation of residents withdrawing from substance abuse, those with co-occurring disorders and other illnesses; and, once stabilized, to support those individuals with an intensive program.

Department of Corrections officials say the program will get people the help they need behind bars and then connect them with services once they are released. 

The WCDOC has partnered with healthcare provider Wellpath and the Department of Community Mental Health to provide the care. 

“It is an exciting opportunity to once again be able to further enhance our existing mental health services for our most psychiatrically compromised residents,” said Wellpath’s Director of Mental Health Dr. Jerome Norton. “Our model draws upon multi-agency resources to promote each individual’s success through comprehensive treatment approaches.”

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