Albemarle County putting together mental health response team
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County is putting together a co-response team to support mental health calls in the county. The team, dubbed the Human Services Alternative Response Team (HARTS), will respond to calls regarding instances like substance abuse, mental health and behavioral health concerns.
“Several years ago, folks in the fire department and police department began to notice a rise in calls for service for behavioral health concerns, mental health concerns and for substance abuse overdoses, and that trend of increasing has continued for almost three years,” Albemarle County Director of Social Services Kaki Dimock said.
The county says it is working on turning that trend around with help from fire rescue and the police department.
“[Fire and Police] started researching models for how they might intervene at the time of call of service to try to de-escalate the situation, to try to connect people to available services, and to try to do more than just emergency response,” Dimock said.
The county says HARTS will focus on individuals and keeping them out out of the emergency room or jail, which Dimock says tends to be the likely outcome for someone who calls 911 with a mental health concern.
“We can be really responsive to decrease the intensity of the situation, try to stabilize the situation and prove that wellbeing for the person who called,” Dimock said. “It’s also really important for us to remember to go slow and to learn well, and to make sure that we’re not rushing our response.”
The HARTS team will be comprised of three individuals: a paramedic, an ACPD police officer and a human services professional from the Department of Social Services. The county is working to hire a police officer to fill the third spot on the team.
Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.
Copyright 2023 WVIR. All rights reserved.