Mental health issues are a serious concern in Humboldt County and statewide. A bill in the last Nevada Legislature created a Regional Behavioral Health Policy Board with the goal to exchange information and ideas on addressing mental health issues. The policy board will also be able to propose legislation designed to improve the way mental health problems are handled.
The Legislature acknowledged that the same solutions that might make sense for Las Vegas and Reno won’t make sense for rural Nevada, so the policy board was divided into regions.
In the last Legislative session, Assembly Bill 366 provided for creation of four behavioral health regions in the state, with an appointed policy board for each region. The goal is for the policy boards is to share concerns and ideas among communities. Then the boards will provide input on mental health-related concerns to the State Division of Public and Behavioral Health and the Commission on Behavioral Health of the Department of Health and Human Services.
See "The state wants regional input on behavioral health" on page 9 to learn more about AB 366 and the four regional policy boards it created.
Humboldt General Hospital Emergency Management Services (HGH EMS) Captain Fergus Laughridge has been appointed to serve on one of the four state regional policy boards created. His appointment fits right into efforts Laughridge is already involved with locally to help develop Humboldt County mental health crisis response, training and resources.
Laughridge received notification in October that he was appointed to the state policy board as a rural Nevada representative by Nevada Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford. Specifically, Laughridge has been asked to represent emergency providers of medical and fire services.
The policy board has not met yet, pending the rest of the appointments being made. Laughridge is looking forward to working with other rural representatives. He will be sharing information about the local Crisis Intervention Team put together by WPD Captain Pam Coats and HCSO Captain Andy Rorex.
He will also share information about efforts to form a Humboldt Behavioral Health Task Force — with a goal of bringing together a number of Humboldt County groups that are currently working separately on mental health issues.
“There are so many parallel tracks that need to be brought together to affect change,” Laughridge said.
Developing processes to address mental health issues can help stop the “revolving door” of people who, because they can’t get the emotional help they need, end up cycling into and out of the hospitals, the jail and the courts.
Laughridge said other areas of the state have made great strides in helping their community members with mental health issues.”In Douglas County there is a team including a paramedic, a psychologist and law enforcement who can work together to help someone suffering a mental health crisis,” Laughridge said.
He noted he’s looking forward to hearing about ideas that are working in other communities and sharing the efforts that are being made in Humboldt County.