VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A new program in Volusia County will work to handle 911 calls from people having mental health crises.
The Volusia Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday it added a mental health crisis counselor to its 911 dispatch team.
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The counselor is a Stewart Marchman Act Healthcare crisis manager who will help route certain calls to mental health care providers, according to a VSO news release.
The goal is to reduce the number of calls that need a response from law enforcement, instead eventually sending such calls to SMA Healthcare’s mobile response team.
Volusia dispatchers have already been getting special training for mental health crises, but Sheriff Mike Chitwood said this was a way to make the communications system better.
“If we have a mental health counselor on the call from the beginning, then we have a better chance at getting the right resources where they’re needed right away,” Chitwood said in a statement.
The inclusion of a mental health crisis counselor represents one of a number of partnerships between SMA Healthcare and the sheriff’s office to increase access to mental health resources in the county.