Social workers training agents to deal with mental health situations

Social workers training agents to deal with mental health situations

GENESEE CO., Mich. (WNEM) – A training program with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office with social workers teaches deputies how to handle a wide variety of situations that can be affected by mental health illnesses and disorders.

Officers learn these situations in a crisis response team.

“We currently have 68 law enforcement officers trained by the crisis response team,” said Kailey Baker, behavioral health emergency care crisis response team supervisor for Genesee Health. System.

Baker said the training she provides is important for police officers responding to a wide variety of situations.

“Right now, we’ve noticed that really in law enforcement, a mental health call is generally considered suicidal or homicidal,” Baker said. “But we open it up to anything, to teach about Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, etc., to help kids versus adults and how we talk to them differently just to get the calls right.”

Meanwhile, Lisa Bruder, crisis services manager at Genesee Health System, said the training program was a hit with officers.

“Agents told us throughout the last year of this program that this was something they had never really known before,” Bruder said. “And so by connecting them to resources and having alternatives to jail or ER, they have other places to take people in need.”

As for Baker, she said plans to develop a co-response team with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office are in the works.

“We have contracts with a deputy and a sergeant and what they do is they do mental health-related calls with a mental health professional,” Baker said.

Baker said the training program, which is just over a year old, has been a success. She will look for other ways to make it even better.

“It’s just been a really good program so far,” Baker said. “We have so many other ideas to scale up and get bigger. We just can’t wait to see where it takes us.”

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