How counselors are helping police in Western Wayne County respond to mental health crisis calls

‘Get services to people at the moment they need it most’

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – During a mental health crisis, it’s police officers who are often the first point of contact for people who need real help. A program in Western Wayne County is aiming to change that and it’s already showing positive results.

There are now hundreds of trained counselors and social workers embedded with police in Wayne County. They’re helping to divert people in crisis out of emergency rooms and jails.

Behavioral health clinician Bellinda Mack is embedded with the Northville Township Police Department.

“I love it,” Mack said. “I think it’s great to get the services to need them in the moment that they need them.

Mack is trained as part of a program by Hegira Health. She gets called when there’s a mental health crisis.

“A lot of times when people are in crisis and they don’t get the help that they need, then it kind of spirals. And sometimes then they feel like everybody’s failed them and they don’t want to get the help, so being able to come in, in that moment and be able to help someone and show them that there are people that care and there are those services and I can walk them through that is just an unbelievable feeling,” Mack said.

Counselors or psychologists like Mack are now working in 11 police departments across Western Wayne County. She’s one of four full-time clinicians in Northville.

“They are licensed, masters-level, trained social workers, psychologists or therapists who are able to do that crisis intervention and de-escalation in the moment. And then they’re also able to provide follow-up care for mental health and substance abuse treatment and services that that person might not otherwise receive,” said Jaime White with Hegira Health

Right now there are more than 500 officers in Wayne County, trained and ready to jump in, no matter what kind of crisis pops up. Northville Township pioneered the program, some of the cities participating include Livonia, Romulus, Plymouth, and Canton.

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.