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News Brief: GBPD enlists mental health clinician

The Mental Health Co-Responder Program is designed to increase earlier identification and intervention for citizens with mental illness who have contact with law enforcement.

Great Barrington Police Department enlists mental health clinician through new partnership

Great Barrington — Chief William Walsh has announced that the Great Barrington Police Department has taken a major step toward providing critical resources for those suffering from mental illness.

The department has partnered with the Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to make mental health clinician Ivy Goodwin available at the police station for two days each week. While on duty with the GBPD, she will serve as a co-responder to calls in which individuals display signs that they are affected by mental illness. Goodwin will have office space at the police station, where she’ll typically work Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In that role, Goodwin will assist people in crisis, outline services available to those in need and complete follow-up visits with residents to ensure they are receiving all of the help available to them. The professional clinician will often respond to mental health-related calls in order to expedite the process of connecting those in need with appropriate resources.

The Mental Health Co-Responder Program is designed to increase earlier identification and intervention for citizens with mental illness who have contact with law enforcement. The goal is to decrease the likelihood that those individuals will be arrested and enter into the criminal justice system because of behaviors related to their illness.

“Having a trained mental health professional on our team will provide our department with an invaluable resource that could ultimately save lives,” Walsh said. “While our officers undergo extensive training to develop their de-escalation skills and improve their interactions with those suffering from mental health challenges, the clinician is best equipped to help people in need.”

The Egremont, Sheffield and Monterey police departments, as well as Southern Berkshire District Court, have joined the partnership with the GBPD and the Brien Center, taking a proactive approach to mental health in their communities.

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