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Fair will address behavioral health issues in the community

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Police, hospitals and churches are teaming up in an effort to address behavioral health challenges in Indianapolis because it goes hand in hand with finding long-term solutions for fighting crime.

Last year, the Department of Public Safety announced they would be focusing on six target areas in the community that were seeing a high amount of crime.

That initiative was part of a larger initiative to address behavioral and mental health challenges throughout the community.

Police said in 2013 and 2014, IEMS runs related to mental illness were 239 percent more likely to happen in those focus areas, as compared to the rest of the city.

They formed a mental health engagement team to look at what they could do.

IMPD Officer Sherron Franklin said a couple years ago, east district formed a ‘family juvenile initiative.’ They partnered with mental health providers so that when police arrived to a home or a scene, they could connect people to services or the information they needed right away.

“It was quite successful, and we did find a lot of people did want the treatment and did need that extra step in getting professional counseling,” explained Franklin.

As part of the DPS initiative, Franklin said they are now working to incorporate that partnership city-wide.

“Now, we can start to treat the runs different. Does this person really need some help? We can talk to the family members, and now we can redirect them somewhere else as opposed to incarceration. This probably will help reduce incarceration, and keep people out of the system that shouldn’t be there, because they have mental health issues that have not been diagnosed,” she added.

Two community behavior health fairs are a part of this initiative to connect people with services available.

On Thursday, leaders will hold the second of those fairs at Fervent Prayer Church.

Dr. Marlon Rollins, Operations Director of Behavioral Health Services, for Community Health Network, will be a speaker.

“It’s really hard to miss in the media, some of the challenges we’re having with our young people. You’re hearing the word mental illness quite a bit, you’re hearing about the violence that’s in our community that’s related to people having mental health crises. We’ve really got to be proactive to prevent some of these issues. We can’t let mental health stay in the dark, as it has historically. The only way you can really address these problems is, to be able to have some open communication so people are comfortable with dealing with these issues, having a conversation about those,” said Dr. Rollins.

Rollins said he is hoping to talk about his personal journey, as well, because his sister died by suicide in December of 2013.

He said he also would like to highlight the success stories of recovery.

“There’s power in getting help. It’s not a weakness to deal with the disease of mental illness or substance abuse. If it goes untreated, things can get worse. But if it gets treated, there really is recovery. That’s the message we want to send out for our community,” said Dr. Rollins.

Rollins said warning signs can be changes in mood, changes in behavior, isolation or people whose peer groups have changed. He said to not be afraid to ask if they are thinking about suicide or how they are feeling and to not be scared to have that conversation.

The Community Behavioral Health Fair is on Thursday at the Fervent Prayer Church in Indianapolis.

Organizers encouraged everyone to attend, to learn more about behavioral health and to find out what care is available in the community.

Food will be provided, and the first 100 people to arrive will receive a mental health journal. This will encourage people to write down their thoughts and to start assessing their mental health.

For more information click here.