Jail diversion program helps adults diagnosed with mental health, substance abuse issues

A Jail Diversion partnership with the Pinellas County Public Defender’s Office of the Sixth Circuit Court and Gulf Coast JFCS helps non-violent referrals that would be better served in a community setting.

Those accepted into the diversion program receive treatment at the Adele Gilbert Residential Treatment Facility in Pasco County. It’s for adults who have a diagnosed with mental illness and substance abuse issues.

"We are unique in the sense that we focus on mental health first," Spencer Hammelman, the residential director, said. "A lot of programs in the area focus on substance abuse as the primary issue, but we do the opposite. And we have a treatment team model here as well."

The program accepts 50-75 patients each year. One of the current residents is Ehren who made a decision that landed him an arrest record last year. However, the staff said just one month into his treatment, and he’s already making great strides.

"I really for the first time, probably in any health care situation, I feel like I've been heard," Ehren said.

He’s receiving individual counseling while learning coping and life skills.

"We tend to have one size fits all kind of solutions for a lot of things in our health care and everything and just society, in general. You know, we're all individuals, though, and, you know, we have to approach things on a more individual basis," Ehren said.

The Adele Gilbert program helps build confidence and teach residents ways to thrive after completing their in-house treatment.

"Once they believe in themselves and they see that they're capable of doing things that maybe other people said they couldn't or wouldn't or shouldn't do, that that's when you see the light go off and that's when the success happens," Aramiz Gonzalez, the program manager, said.

It’s a 90-day referral-based program, but participants receive wraparound services after completion.

For other behavioral health treatment programs offered by Gulf Coast JFCS visit: https://gulfcoastjewishfamilyandcommunityservices.org/