Pinellas County has a long history of using data from across systems to understand the characteristics of people who use services, what puts them at risk for an escalation in their service needs and how it can improve service delivery. Due to limited state funding for behavioral health and the high cost of frequent utilizers on systems, Pinellas County is prioritizing stabilizing these individuals. In addition to working to reduce wait times for receiving behavioral health services, determining gaps in the continuum of care and developing solutions that meet the needs of the community, Pinellas County created the Pinellas County Empowerment Team (PCET) to assist people who have mental illnesses and substance use disorders access and receive care that will reduce recidivism and improve and support well-being.
In collaboration with the Stepping Up initiative, the Data-Driven Justice initiative and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) convened a Best Practices Implementation Academy to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders in Jails (BPIA) in April 2018 in Alexandria, Va. SAMHSA contracted with Policy Research Associates (PRA), which operates SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, to facilitate the BPIA. This case study is part of a series highlighting the six counties that constituted the “Best Practices” teams representing the Data-Driven Justice initiative and the Stepping Up initiative at the BPIA.Standard