MELBOURNE, Fla. — The Melbourne Police Department is touting the success of its new mental health Mobile Response team, launched just over a year ago.
The program pairs police officers with mental health and social workers to provide assistance to people with severe mental health issues.
So far this year, the Mobile Response Team has already responded 276 times. In August alone, the team was dispatched to 49 different crisis situations.
“We’re able to get to the scene pretty quickly and provide supports to help deescalate, connect to resources,” MRT Program Manager Abby Pease explained.
The program was launched last year through a partnership with the Central Florida Cares Health System and Brevard Family Partnership. The pilot program is funded through a three-year, $1.2 million grant received from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Melbourne Resident Madonna O’Connor says she’s grateful for the program. She knows first-hand the types of stress that can come with trying to support a family member having a mental health crisis.
“They’re overwhelming. They’re exhausting, whatever the case may be,” O’Connor said. “This program is a relief for me. I can go to work.”
O’Connor says her family has benefitted from ongoing crisis intervention, including peer support specialists. According to the police department, many people are opting to get additional, ongoing assistance after their initial contact with the team.
In addition to mental health services, MRT clinicians also provide assistance for people experiencing problems such as homelessness, domestic violence, or drug addiction who could also benefit from the help of a mental health practitioner or social worker.
“Then the officers aren’t going out to the house for the same people as often,” Melbourne Police Department Sgt. Benjamin Slover explained. “So it frees them up, both the comm center and our patrol officers, to go out and do law enforcement-related activities.”
“If you yourself struggle or have a loved on that struggles, pick up the phone, call the non-emergency number,” O’Connor added.
Pease says that other local police departments have expressed interest in launching similar programs.
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