Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was in Missoula on Tuesday to highlight what is called the HEART Fund (Healing and Ending Addition through Recovery and Treatment), which has expanded community-based behavioral health care and treating developmental disabilities throughout the state.

Gianforte was joined by officials with the Montana DPHHS, the Montana Department of Corrections, Sheriff Jeremiah Peterson, and mental health counselor Alyse Last Star.

Gianforte opened the press conference with the purpose of the HEART fund.

Governor Gianforte was at the Detention Center in Missoula with other Officials

“Talking with local law enforcement and treatment providers, I’ve heard repeatedly of the need to get behavioral health services into our detention centers and our prisons,” began Governor Gianforte. “This is really a top priority for us. That’s why in 2021 (during the legislative session) we initiated the HEART Fund which provides $25 million per year for behavioral health services. The first grant from the HEART Fund was a $2.7 million grant to detention centers across the state.”

Missoula County Sheriff Jeremiah Petersen praised how the HEART fund has already benefited the Missoula County Detention Center.

Sheriff Jeremiah Petersen Praised the HEART Grant at the Detention Center

“I just want to touch a little bit on the highlights that the HEART grant has helped us here,” began Sheriff Petersen. “It has enabled us to hire two mental health therapists and one care coordinator. Some of the things that they do here at the detention center are that they coordinate with individuals for group or individual therapy. They go through risk assessments, and suicide assessments, and they help reintegrate them back into the community with the services they might need when they get out (of jail).

Alyse Last Star, the local Mental Health Lead pointed out the improvement in mental health services at the facility since the HEART Fund took effect.

Last Star said the Fund has Drastically Improved Mental Health Care

“Just looking at the statistics, and what the two individuals, the two therapists that were here before my team, it was roughly around 78 people that they were able to meet with roughly from July until January before I had come in,” began Last Star. “Since then, as a whole, our entire team has been able to provide care to about 5,500 individuals.”

Gianforte pointed out the fact that the legislature granted his request for a $300 million investment in behavioral health.

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