The Chelan County Sheriff's Office has received nearly $50,000 to be invested in the Behavioral Health Unit.

The grant was awarded by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WACJTC) for Officer Wellness. Grant monies can be put toward any of the following: peer support; stress management; neurofeedback machines; PTSD workshops (for personnel and spouses alike); and continuing education materials. (Formal education is increasingly a priority in law enforcement, though most police departments still don't require a four-year degree.)

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This is the second of two BHU grants. The first was awarded in 2023. But long before that, BHU manager (and mental health counselor) Ana Gonzalez had proven herself a diligent and persuasive grant writer; Gonzalez has secured eight outside grants since in recent years. That amounts to just shy of $2 million.

The numbers can be broken down further. According to a press release, "Three of these grants, totaling $268,578, support officer wellness, while the other five, totaling $1,702,010.24, support the Behavioral Health Unit. This is a testament to her dedication and the effectiveness of our programs."

The BHU functions as an intermediary, a bridge between law enforcement and the troubled souls entrusted to law enforcement's supervision. This includes " in-the-moment crisis response and follow-up."

"The goal is to divert people with behavioral health challenges from the criminal justice and emergency medical systems."

There's some overlap between mental and behavioral health, but they are different things. Yet these two terms - "mental health" and "behavioral health" - are often used interchangeably.

That's not the only misconception to which the public holds fast. The correlation between mental illness and crime is mistakenly assumed to be very strong. In reality the mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Jenkins

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