EPD addressing mental health crisis through partnership

EPD addressing mental health crisis through new partnership
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Evansville Police Department and Southwestern Behavioral Health have formed a working relationship that is truly shaping the mental health of our community.

On average, EPD responds to three calls a week pertaining to people experiencing a mental health crisis. About 125 crisis intervention officers are trained on the department and respond to these calls. Mario Reed is the mental health and homeless liaison for the Evansville police department.

“They learn about psychopharmacology, de-escalation, learn about different mental health, mental illnesses, some symptoms of mental illness, how to not so much diagnose but how to observe and see oh well that may be caused by mental illness and because of that, that might cause harm to someone,” he says.

EPD continues to train and educate officers so they can best serve the community.

“It’s like having an extra tool in their belt so they can best meet the needs of the communities they serve.”

This is part of the department close to Reed’s heart.

“I actually am a person who has some experience as a person dealing with mental illness myself and take medication and treatment for that,” he tells us. “I have a passion because when I see the people I work with, I see myself.”

Two years ago, a partnership between EPD and Southwestern Behavioral Health was birthed to help with mental health crisis calls.

“It is a community effort using the mental health system we have in place and law enforcement and service providers coming together to make sure we meet those needs” Reed says.

Once police secure the scene of a crisis call, Southwestern Behavioral Health Crisis will be called to the scene. Two people respond and talk with the person in crisis. Charlotte Critchfield is a licensed clinical social worker and a clinical manager for crisis services.

“Peer support will gather information from them, what are they needing, how can we best support them this day,” she says. “Then we will start making a plan on how we can address things.”

If police are no longer needed, the crisis team is able to release them. The crisis team offers a variety of resources at this point from sharing resources to staying on the crisis stabilization unit.

“If they feel they need to go and get a hospital evaluation done, we can take them to the hospital and walk them in and then talk with hospital staff about what’s happening. So really we are with them throughout the entire process,” says Critchfield.

The goal of this partnership is to help the person in crisis gain back control of their life.

“If we can help them find a way that they can be safe, whether that’s in their own environment, in our environment or we need to help them seek a higher level of care, letting them have more control is going to help them feel more invested in the process and make them feel they have a choice in the matter,” she says.

All services are free and they tell us they want more people to know about the services that way they can reach the people that need support.