CMPD, mental health advocate have shared interest in vulnerable population

May is mental health awareness month, and on Saturday, Eustress Inc. held its annual Let’s Talk About It Mental Health Awareness Day.

Eustress Inc. was born out of the desire to bring awareness to the importance of acknowledging, improving and preserving mental health, a topic often marked by stigma and denial, particularly in the Black community.

Members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s community policing crisis response team were at the event to talk about the department’s Safe Outcomes Program.

The program enables the CMPD to obtain critical information that assists in response to calls for service involving an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, blindness, autism, Down’s syndrome, deafness, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disabilities that may affect the way individuals interact and respond to law enforcement officers.

“It is important to have police skilled in recognizing someone living with a mental illness, especially during a crisis, because they may be the first to encounter that person,” said Rwenshaun Miller, executive director of Eustress Inc.

Information entered by residents into the Safe Outcomes application is added to CMPD’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) special situations remarks and included with any other flags for the specific address provided by the resident.

When 911 Communications receives a call for service and the address is associated with an address registered in Safe Outcomes, once the call is dispatched to the officer, the CAD screens for officers and dispatchers will indicate it is a Safe Outcomes flagged address.

The information on this screen alerts the officer that a person registered with the Safe Outcomes program resides at this address.

The responding officer can open the link displayed on their CAD screen and view summary information and a photo (if one is included) about the registered individual.

Miller said that it is critically important for officers to be skilled in recognizing someone with a mental health illness.

“Having those skills helps the officers recognize if and when someone, or the colleagues, is experiencing some challenges,” he said. “It’s important for them to recognize when they can truly help or call in other resources to appropriately handle the situation.”

The “Let’s Talk About It” walk began with a fitness workout, and then CMPD cadets escorted the crowd on a 1-mile walk around the campus of Northside Baptist Church that was lined with thought-provoking and useful signs about mental wellness.

Safe Outcomes is voluntary for those participating, and all information is kept confidential. There is no enrollment fee.

Caregivers can click here to enroll family members, friends or clients with medical and developmental disabilities.

“Our conversation about mental health needs to happen every day,” Miller said. “My hope is that we make it easier to talk about.”

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