Addressing mental health in our community

Addressing mental health in our community
(Source: WTOL)

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - If you've never dealt with mental illness yourself or with a loved one, it's hard to even know what resources are available or how to get someone help.

However, WTOL 11's Michelle Zepeda found a simple way for you to report someone who you feel could harm themselves or others.

It just takes a phone call to police, Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services or Rescue Mental Health. These agencies have formed a strong partnership, creating a system that can prevent a tragedy.

Toledo police say it's not just about what they're doing now, but it's looking forward to the future and how our community can remain on the leading edge when it comes to handling mental illness.

Rescue Mental Health has teams of social workers who work around the clock. When a police officer reports an individual, or someone calls in about a loved one or even co worker, that team will be dispatched to evaluate that person.

By making the report, social workers, sometimes with the help of police, will get that person checked into a hospital for a full evaluation. This will put the patient on a path to provide lasting help for their mental illness by leading them to treatment facilities and resources they need to get better.

"Treat mental health like its a broken arm, John DeBruyne of Rescue Mental Health and Recovery Services described. "Mental illness can not wait, its urgent. That is why we are a crisis center. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Rescue Mental Health responded to 4,000 emergency assessments last year. Besides assessments, they also offer walk-in help and a place to voluntarily admit yourself.

Over at The Toledo Police Department Lieutenant Brian Twining worked to put together a data base that helps police keep tabs on those with a mental illness their officers come into contact with.

"It provides us with some general statistics but also will notify us when we have had a certain amount of contacts in a certain amount of time so that maybe we can take a look at it a little closer," Lieutenant Twining said.

On average, officers respond to 50 calls a month where there is someone suffering from a mental illness.

That statistic is why The Mental Health and Recovery Services provide 4 Crisis Intervention Team trainings every year, educating 100 members of law enforcement about the best ways to interact with the mentally ill and how they can get them help.

"We have really beefed up these efforts and now we have ongoing relationships with law enforcement then minimal relationships in the past," Scott Sylak of Mental Health and Recovery Services said.

Officers can now recognize those with a possible mental illness and refer them for a mandatory hospital psychiatric evaluation.

"We believe in preventing these situations by getting help early," Debruyne explained. "We believe in getting people help early. We believe in restoring hope and providing state of the art treatment services urgently and immediately."

Looking ahead to the future, part of the new jail plan, that tax payers will vote on in November, also includes funding for a new facility to accommodate those with all levels mental health issues.

It will be a place these individuals will go, rather then a jail cell, to get them treatment they need to prevent future run ins with the law. In the end keeping our community safer.

You can always call 911 if you are concerned someone might hurt themselves or others and they can dispatch social workers. Or you can visit the Rescue Mental Health and Addictions Services website or call them at 419-255-3125.

There is also Mental Health Crisis Text Line that you can text for help. Text 4HOPE to 741-741.

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