THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WTXL) — In the Thomas County jail, mental health is the leading illness for over 20% of its inmates.
"Their mental health issues aren't identified which means they're not going to get any treatment. We know without treatment it increases the mental health situation and increases the likelihood of reincarceration," La'Trina O'Neal Licensed Therapist, New Day Counseling LLC said.
The Thomas County Sheriff's Office is currently undergoing negotiations for its jail health services.
It has been over five years since their last negotiation process.
Since then, mental health illness has spiked. With over 200 inmates at least 20% suffer from mental health illness.
When speaking with Captain Steven Jones he says the leading mental health cases are developmental disabilities, childhood trauma, and drug use.
"The biggest one we are dealing with right now is mental health from drug use. The drugs on the street that we're seeing is causing brain damage that will not be fixed. That is the one you cannot prescribe enough medication, you cannot give enough therapy, to fix the brain damage that this stuff has been doing," Jones said.
Captain Jones has a major request when deciding on a new health care provider.
"I would like to see a real person come into the jail and do the mental health counseling. Not a computer. We need a real person to come in here," Jones said.
Though this may have its difficulties. With over 25 years in her field. O'Neal believes the problem with the mental health crisis is not having enough licensed professionals in rural areas.
"The biggest concern is the resources. We don't have proper resources to attack what is happening in our communities right now," O'Neal said.
Thomas County Sheriff's Office will officially stop taking proposals July 15.