Mental health experts help Montgomery police respond to crisis calls

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – As violent crime continues to plague the country, Montgomery police have seen an increase in residents struggling with mental health challenges.

“We’ve seen an increase in mental health issues and mental crisis,” said Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert. “We understand it’s a public health crisis.”

While mental illness can eventually turn into something more serious, like crime, it is extremely common.

Carastar Health, formerly known as the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority, says one in five people are affected.

“Most people who have mental illness are not going to be violent,” said Donna Leslie, executive director of Carastar Health. “However, when someone has a mental illness and it escalates to that point, it can escalate quickly.”

That’s why mental health professionals want to fight stigma and treat it.

“So many people are suffering that they don’t need to do it in silence when they can reach out and get help,” Leslie said.

Carastar Health just launched one new 24-hour crisis center. It’s an alternative place of sanctuary for people who would normally be taken to the emergency room or even arrested for mental health or behavioral issues.

In addition to providing resources at the center, Carastar Health professionals work alongside MPD to help respond to crisis calls.

The police have a crisis intervention team with trained professionals who can go to the scene.

“Then they work with us to try to resolve it,” Leslie said.

It’s a partnership to help law enforcement understand the mental health challenges that affect so many.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the word out and give people the guidance to get to the right services they need,” Albert said.

Mental health resources for Carastar Health AND Alabama Department of Mental Health They are tied. You can also call 988, a new national crisis line.

Copyright 2022 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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