Ward urges state to help with mental health facility

By Focus Staff

Knox County Commissioner Kyle Ward has fired off a letter to Governor Bill Lee urging financial support for a mental health facility to be located in Knoxville and Knox County.  Of the four big urban counties in Tennessee — Shelby (Memphis), Davidson (Nashville), Knox and Hamilton (Chattanooga) — Knox County is the only one without a mental health facility since Lakeshore was closed.  Ward sponsored a resolution before the County Commission recently to officially request Knox County’s state legislators to push for building and funding a mental health facility in Knoxville.

Ward’s letter urges support from the governor and the state legislature in providing funding to build and staff a facility here.

“The Majority Whip in the Tennessee House of Representatives, Johnny Garrett, has stated he and other members of the state legislature ‘desire to address mental illness through treatment and resources for those who may be a threat to themselves and others,’” Ward’s letter to the governor begins.

“As a member of the Knox County Commission, I know a great number of our people recognize the need to do something meaningful about the problem of homelessness and mental illness,” Ward’s letter continues.  “As a former member of the armed services, I would say the primary responsibility of our government is to protect the welfare and safety of our citizens.  It is also clear municipal and county governments, especially in the urban counties, need the help of our state government.”

Kyle Ward writes Governor Lee that there “is a pressing and profound need for a mental health facility in Knox County.”

“No other proposal solution would address the homeless problem in our urban areas better than having a facility where individuals can be treated for mental illness and/or addiction-related problems. It would allow our local judges, especially with a court specifically to address mental illness,have a facility where they have the option to send who need it.”

Commissioner Ward goes on to ask Lee to earmark $20 million to build and began staffing a facility for treatment of “those mentally ill and homeless folks who are afflicted with addiction-related problems.”

Ward states in his letter to the governor he believes “Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Sheriff Tom Spangler, and the members of the Knox County Commission will do their part in making this urgent need a reality.”