WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The city of Williamsport is working to bring more mental health resources to their community.
Creating these resources would not only help cut down on the number of calls police respond to, but it would also ensure that people with mental health illnesses get the proper help.
This pandemic sheds light on the number of people facing mental health and the limited places to turn for help. Williamsport’s mayor, Derek Slaughter, says they are working to help people actively going through a crisis.
We applied for a $600,000 grant with the Department of Justice, DOJ. If we get that grant, that’s going to allow us to implement a mental health, behavioral health, critical intervention team,” Mayor Slaughter said.
Even if the grant isn’t approved, they have a backup plan.
“If we don’t get the grant, we’re still looking at using part of our rescue plan money to fund a team of that nature,” Slaughter said.
These new resources will limit police involvement when a person is suffering from a mental health episode.
“They’ll be able to immediately identify when that is occurring and be ale to send either the persons that are part of this program, to the community member that needs it,” Williamsport Bureau of Police assistant chief Jason Bolt said.
This program also aims to be proactive by getting residents mental health assistance sooner.
“They’ll be able to implement earlier the programs that are necessary to hopefully keep these people out of the justice system, the judicial system and put them more in a mental health/therapeutic system,” Bolt said.
The city could be approved for this grant any day now. If it goes through, they’ll have a year to come up with a plan with the hopes of having this up and running by the end of 2022.