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Behavioral center teams up with sheriff's office to provide mental health services

Valerie Holcomb says Andrews is working with the Smith County Sheriff's Office to add two deputies that specialize in mental health crisis intervention. (Source KLTV Staff) Valerie Holcomb says Andrews is working with the Smith County Sheriff's Office to add two deputies that specialize in mental health crisis intervention. (Source KLTV Staff)
On Tuesday, the County Commissioner's Court will meet and decide what action will be taken on the agreement between the sheriff's office and Andrews Center.  (Source: KLTV Staff) On Tuesday, the County Commissioner's Court will meet and decide what action will be taken on the agreement between the sheriff's office and Andrews Center. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

The Smith County Jail is currently the largest provider of mental health treatment in the county, say mental health officials. Now, Andrews Center Behavioral Healthcare System is working with the sheriff's office to change that.

Si White is a peer specialist for Andrews Center Behavioral Healthcare System. In 2009 she was diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar and struggled to get a handle on her condition.

"One day I was me and the next day I was somebody else," White said.

White says she faced her share of challenges including a run-in with law enforcement.

"I'm like, 'Why did you stop me,' and they said 'Well, you ain't got your lights on.' Once they started talking to me I got manic and started having anxiety and they took it the wrong way,” White said.

White says she felt mistreated during the incident, so she believes raising awareness about mental health issues would be beneficial

"If you've never been educated you will treat them just like they are criminals," White said.

Valerie Holcomb, director of forensic services at the Andrews Center, says they are working with the Smith County Sheriff's Office to add two deputies who specialize in mental health crisis intervention.

"If you train law enforcement on the resources, they will use those resources," Holcomb said.

Holcomb says they'll assist other patrol deputies with mental health crises out in the field. She believes having them readily available will also save the county some money.

"Now if a person needs to go to the jail, they need to be there, but if it's just a nuisance because they are criminally trespassing and they can be better treated out in the community, we want to do that," Holcomb said.

On Tuesday, the County Commissioner's Court will meet and decide what action will be taken on the agreement between the sheriff's office and Andrews Center.

Andrews Center officials say if the agreement is approved, it will be funded by a grant from the state.

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