Mental Health Court upset with potential cuts

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FLINT (WJRT) - (10/27/16) - Genesee Health System began discussing its budget issues at Thursday's monthly meeting.

The general fund is in trouble and those dollars are used to fill in holes for several of the agency's services.

Mental Health Court is one of them.

So Probate Judge Jennie Barkey attended the meeting to plead with the GHS Board.

She tells ABC12 she's gotten every grant she can, but Mental Health Court can't afford to lose the $75,000 GHS provides.

The court helps people, like Justin Jones, who have committed a crime because of their mental illness - mandating services to get them back on track.

"It only takes one time of slipping on your meds or one week to get off your meds, and you know, you do things that's out of your control," Jones explained.

He constantly battles with depression and anxiety.

A few years ago, Jones was found guilty of a misdemeanor and was facing jail time. But he had the opportunity to participate in the Mental Health Court instead.

"I didn't see a future in sight, I didn't see much of anything, you know. And, halfway through the program, I realized I'm like look I got all these resources here, I got all these people here that want to be on my side and have my back," Jones said.

It's an opportunity that's changed nearly 600 lives in Genesee County.

But, without GHS's financial assistance, the program can't survive.

So Judge Barkey says she won't stop fighting.

"The services offered to GHS by these folks, they'd have to offer them to them anyways, they're consumers anyways," she explained. "We owe these people. This could be your sister, my brother, this could be me, this could be you."

At Thursday's meeting, the Board decided to create a subcommittee that will look into passing a millage in the coming years that would solely support their general fund.

Until then, CEO Dan Russell says he'll appeal to the Board of Commissioners.

"Try and get before them to, you know, plead our case again and see where we go from there," he explained.

Hoping for more success stories like Justin's.

"I'm doing a lot better now - for myself, for my family. I even feel for Genesee County. You know, being back on the fire department, helping people out in the world, driving tow trucks, helping people out on the road. I got my daughter back in my life and that's a big thing, alone," Jones said.

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