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Some rural counties lack necessary mental health resources

Brianna Grier's case in Hancock County highlights the lack of mental health providers needed in small counties.

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ga. — When Brianna Grier suffered a mental health crisis, her family called Hancock County deputies hoping for help. 

She ended up in a hospital after deputies say she fell from a patrol car, and died several days later. 

According to the Licensed Professional Counselors Association (LPCA) of Georgia in 2019, there were 6,459 licensed counselors in the state of Georgia. 

Jack Taylor is a licensed professional counselor at CareMore in Sandersville. He says some counties have the resources to help people in crisis, and other counties miss the mark. 

"Some of these smaller counties don't have the amount of mental health professionals to serve the population," Taylor says.

He went on to say there's another reason for limited resources and says "it's an issue of funding." 

13WMAZ received documents from the Hancock County Sheriff's Office that showed they responded several times in recent years when Grier had a mental health crisis. 

They would usually take her to Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin for a psych evaluation.

Taylor says law enforcement is not fully trained to treat people with mental health problems and they need support.

Hancock County doesn't have a local hospital if someone is in need, so people in the county have to travel to Baldwin for care. 

There is an Oconee Center for Behavioral Health called New Beginnings in Sparta, GA with some resources, and it is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Mental health professionals are going with the police...I kind of like that idea of someone going out when, you know, there's a possibility of a mental health crisis," Taylor said.

Clifford Hamilton is the owner and CEO of CareMore. He says some rural counties may not know what is available in their area. 

Each county has a local health department. Check with them to see what mental health resources are available. 

You can also call 988 if you or someone you know is in a mental health or suicidal crisis.

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