Call for more funding of local mental health resources

By Erica Finke | WSBT 22
May 17, 2021

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Faith in Indiana is asking St. Joseph County elected officials to give at least 10 percent of its American Rescue Plan money to fund local mental health resources.

In total the county will get more than $125 million from the American Rescue Plan.

Elected officials and faith leaders talked about the need for mental health resources.

They say this is very necessary, because people having a mental episode or drug problem will be brought to jail.

But they say a person struggling with mental health or addiction need somewhere to go where they can get help and resources.

The mobile crisis unit could happen in a matter of months.

Faith in Indiana is hoping to have a plan for the crisis response center by the end of the year.

Faith leaders and St. Joseph County elected officials are reflecting on the progress made to keep people out of jail that are struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

At the town hall Sunday, Pastor James Williams reflected on his experiences with mental health struggles. Williams’ brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

His brother needed help, but would end up in jail instead.

“So many have mental illness and mental challenges that if you are viewed as a problem in society you could be incarcerated,” said Pastor Williams.

Pastor Claval Hunter says society has expected police officers to be social workers, family counselors and substance abuse specialists for “far too long.”

“This is not their expertise. It’s not fair to the officers. It’s not fair to our community,” said Pastor Clabal Hunter, Berean Seventh Day Adventist.

Faith in Indiana says the St. Joseph County community needs a mobile crisis unit and crisis response center to give those struggling the help they need.

The Mobile Crisis Unit would be a team of clinicians, substance abuse specialists and EMTs that are on call 24/7.

The crisis response center would be a place for people to get help with their mental health or drug problem instead of going to jail or a mental hospital.

Sheriff William Redman says mental health calls have continued to rise and he’s committed to these mental health resources.

“Our officers are dealing with those types of situations every single day and it has got nothing but worse as a result of the pandemic.”

The mobile crisis unit could happen in a matter of months. Faith in Indiana is hoping to have a plan for the crisis response center by the end of the year.

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