SIM team tackles high-priority mental health and criminal justice issues in Natrona County

By Ray Pacheco, Senior Director of Programs and Community Engagement

On December 9, 2021, Policy Research Associates (PRA) convened with stakeholders from around Natrona County for an in-person Sequential Intercept Model mapping workshop. This initiative was led by Banner Wyoming Medical Center with funding from Natrona Collective Health Trust in an effort to address the impact of mental health crises on our community’s health care and criminal justice systems.

The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) provides a framework for communities interested in exploring the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice.

The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) was developed by Mark R. Munetz, M.D. and Patricia A. Griffin, Ph.D., and provides a framework for communities interested in exploring the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice. The SIM helps to assess available resources, identify service gaps, and create a strategic planning process for communities. SIM process creates a map that illustrates how people with mental and substance abuse disorders enter and move through the criminal justice system. Throughout the SIM process, stakeholders from the community work to identify opportunities for support, treatment, and prevention for those in the system.

At its December meeting, PRA facilitated discussion focused on identifying resources and gaps within Natrona County.  A voting process was used to prioritize the identified gaps in services, which would be the focus of the overall strategic planning.  From this meeting four priority areas were identified:

  • Establish a behavioral health coordinating body to manage strategy development, coordination, and implementation.
  • Create a discharge process and service coordination process from and between the detention center and key service providers.
  • Eliminate barriers and improve access and coordination across acute behavioral health services.
  • Establish a coordinated crisis response system.

The Natrona County SIM team now meets once a month for two hours to look at the overall strategy of the other three priority areas. These meetings are facilitated by NCHT Sr. Program Director Ray Pacheco.  The teams work in small work groups to narrow down and create action steps to achieve the objectives.  The work groups return to the large group to discuss the action steps, its status, and next steps.

Currently, the SIM team has moved forward with creating a case manager position to help coordinate the discharge process of individuals coming out of the Natrona County Detention Center. The case manager position is being funded by NCHT and will be a full-time employee of the Mercer Family Resource Center.

The goal of the case manager program is to assist clients either in crisis or returning to the community from a crisis situation, treatment, or incarceration. Qualified individuals will receive enhanced case management services that will support them through the challenges they face, ensure their basic needs are being addressed, and assist them in obtaining the resources they require, which will promote a healthier and more successful individual and a safer and healthier community.

The SIM team has much work left to do to address all the priority areas that were identified.  The goal is meet the objectives of all the priorities by the new year. The SIM team is dedicated to a safer and healthier community.

If you would like more information or you are interested in being a part of the coordinating body, please reach out to Ray Pacheco at the Natrona Collective Health Trust at [email protected] or 307-243-2706.

Future Meetings: All meetings are held at the Ramkota from 1-3 p.m.

  • September 27
  • October 18
  • November 22
  • December 13