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Spindletop, Sheriff’s Office team for inaugural mental health training

BEAUMONT — The Mental Health Correctional Officer Course aims to further educate local correctional officers on identifying, engaging and referring individuals experiencing mental health issues to mental health appropriate programs.

Thomas Smith, crisis prevention specialist at Spindletop Center, said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Spindletop have been pioneers in collaboratively addressing the needs of individuals experiencing symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorders for many years.

“Law enforcement, jail administration, the judicial system, the Local Mental Health Authority (Spindletop Center), as well as other community organizations, are working with these individuals with mental illness to ensure efficient and appropriate linkage of mental health and substance use services,” Smith said.

That linkage was fortified recently when Spindletop collaborated with Sheriff Zena Stephens to host the 40-hour mental health course, which was presented at no cost to the community’s local law enforcement agencies.

This was the first Mental Health Correctional Officer Course taught in Southeast Texas, officials said.

The course offers 12 modules with a site visit to Spindletop Center at the end.

The modules covered communication and de-escalation, mood disorders, thought disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders and suicide, among others.

“Correctional officers completing the Mental Health Correctional Officer Course will be able to relate key mental health issues to their daily operations within a jail setting as they promote wellness and adherence to behavioral health treatments; and promote recovery when the inmate is reintegrated into the community,” Smith said.

For more information about the Mental Health Correctional Officer Course, contact Smith at Thomas.Smith@stctr.org or 409-839-2221.