CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In Franklin County, for the last year there has been a major push to get a mental health co-responder, which is a mental health professional who can assist police officers when they have to go out and deal with people with mental and intellectual disabilities.
“We're keeping safety through law enforcement where also getting at people engaged in the community into the supports that they need and those supports then will divert people hopefully from having to go into jail,” said Steve Nevada, the Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities Coordinator for Franklin and Fulton County.
Thanks to the Franklin/Fulton Mental Health Intellectual Disabilities Office, one person has been hired and will go between the Waynesboro, Washington Township and Greencastle police departments.
“We go out and respond to address any mental illness needs and those needs than are addressed through that co responder, getting the person again to the right service, connecting to them to a referral, the right place at the right time,” said Nevada.
Cori Seilhamer is a Mental Health Program Specialist who has worked to helped get the co-responder grant. She says the co-responder will be able to advocate for people with mental health issues, which she believes is crucial.
“Someone that deals with that and knows how to access the services, where are those supports at can be a little more helpful than sometimes law enforcement,” said Seilhamer.
Nevada says the grant is for two-years and $150,000. He is hoping that the program will be a major success.
“With success, we can build on this success here on this model we look to expand this beyond this area and continue to do this throughout the county potentially,” said Nevada.
The co-responder will start on May 1st.
The Franklin County District Attorney's office along with the Franklin County Commissioners worked together to bring the grant to Franklin County.