Sandoval proposes $8 million more for Nevada’s mental health needs

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Wednesday that he is proposing to direct nearly $8 million in additional money received from a tobacco settlement to state mental health needs.

Sandoval is proposing to spend $1.4 million to make physical improvements at the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas so that 10 additional beds can be added to care for long-term patients.

Another $3 million would be directed to the Lake’s Crossing facility for mentally ill offenders in Sparks to hire staffing and make physical improvements to add 10 beds to the facility to keep up with court requirements for mental competency evaluations for people facing criminal charges.

Another $1.4 million would add an additional Programs for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team in Las Vegas to assist people with severe mental illness. One of two teams in Las Vegas was lost due to budget cuts. The money will restore the second team.

The second team will also help the agency implement a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, to allow for the involuntary commitment of some mentally ill individuals to outpatient services instead of requiring hospitalization.

Assembly Bill 287, which is also supported by Clark County Family Court Judge William Voy, could be enacted with the second PACT team, which can handle 75 clients.

Stewart said he was pleased to hear of Sandoval’s recommendation and that the bill, a team effort with help from Assemblyman Andy Eisen, D-Las Vegas, and others, may now go forward.

“It is important with the challenges in mental health to provide treatment for some of the more chronically ill in more quick and economical ways,” he said.

A final $2 million would go to a home safety program creating teams for home visitation after mentally ill patients leave hospitals and require ongoing assistance and monitoring. The pilot project will use community-based providers to help families set up safety plans for mentally ill family members, including controlling access to any firearms.

Another $7.3 million would be set aside for the Department of Health and Human Services to deal with any federal spending reductions due to the sequester.

“These are all concepts that have been on the table that allow us to strengthen things,” Sandoval said.

The money is coming primarily from a one-time $21 million additional payment in the state’s tobacco litigation.

Sandoval said he would plan to continue paying for any ongoing costs of the new programs in future budgets with general fund revenues.

The proposals will be presented to the Nevada Legislature.

Sandoval said the proposals are unrelated to the controversy over the out-of-state transfers of patients from Rawson-Neal.

Sandoval said that when the settlement money came in, he asked Health and Human Resources Director Mike Willden where the funding windfall could be spent and these were the recommendations.

The new money is in addition to $4.1 million Sandoval previously announced for a mental health jails re-entry program from savings found in his proposed budget. It is also in addition to the $800,000 allocated to a 24-7 urgent care mental health center in Las Vegas that was part of his original budget.

These two proposals have already received initial approval from legislative budget committees.

Willden said the approximate $13 million in additional funding for mental health programs in Nevada over the next two years is substantial. He also said it is not directly related to the controversy over the relocation of patients from the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital.

“The money will help the overall mental health program,” Willden said. “It will add more safety, more staff and more resources. It is a significant improvement.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at or 775-687-3900.

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