Sheriff's Office - Special Needs Unit receives training to support inmates with mental illness

December 12, 2017

The El Paso County Commissioners Court recently approved a Resolution, read by Commissioner David Stout, in honor of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation for a program grant to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to train Detention Bureau staff in Mental Health First-Aid and make necessary systematic changes to reduce negative bias associated with mental illness.

Over the past three years, with funding from the Health Foundation, more than 400 individuals from the Sheriff’s Office – Special Needs Unit received training on how to see the signs and symptoms of mental illness. The Sheriff’s Office further established an in-house crisis-line to Emergence Health Network crisis counselors, bilingual mental health awareness literature and more than 20,000 mental health resources cards that are provided to inmates when they leave the facility. Notably, Special Needs Unit officers now wear blue shirts to distinguish them as trained in mental health first aid.

The grant to the Sheriff’s Office was made as part of the Health Foundation’s Think.Change Initiative, which supports efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, increase training for mental health providers and explore structural changes in the region’s behavioral treatment system.

For more information, contact Enrique Mata, Senior Program Officer, Paso del Norte Health Foundation at or 915-218-2617.

Click here to view the KVIA news segment on the recognition.

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