The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board of trustees has approved a grant of more than $1 million to expand the women's mental health unit at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center. The board also approved $3.7 million for crisis stabilization services and peer support organizations.

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority is a state entity that serves people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism or substance abuse, Alzheimer's, dementia and permanent brain injuries. The Trust is self-funded and overseen by a seven-member board.

Board chair Mary Jane Michael said the funding will have a significant positive impact on Mental Health Trust beneficiaries.

"These one-time expenditures will go a long way in improving overall access to necessary supports and services," Michael wrote.

In a news release Thursday, the board of trustees said it recognizes the need for inmates at Hiland Mountain to have more timely access and improved mental health care. Their grant, plus matching funds from the Department of Corrections, will go toward increasing capacity and creating a safe, therapeutic space for those in detox.

Crisis stabilization services will provide a secure and professionally managed environment to help deescalate situations where people are in the midst of mental health crises. They can help reduce visits to emergency room visits and admissions to psychiatric hospitals.

Peer support organizations will provide drop-in and community-based services as part of mental health care treatment.

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority still has to present their final funding recommendations.

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