Fishers mayor creates mental health task force

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FISHERS, Ind. (Feb. 20, 2015) - It’s a solution city leaders in Fishers are hoping will help men and women suffering from mental illness. A task force has been created there that aims to cut back on suicide, and violent crime committed by those with a mental illness.

“Our goal with this task force is to intervene sooner and work on prevention and early intervention,” said Suzanne Clifford, Executive Vice President of Behavioral Health for the Community Health Network.

Behavioral Health experts from Community Health Network are joining forces with the Fishers Police and Fire Departments, and the Mayor’s office to help those suffering from a mental health disorder.

“One in four Americans will have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder every year. So this is a very common problem, people just don’t like to talk about it; they feel very uncomfortable about the stigma,” said Clifford.

“We as city leaders, we focus so much on what we’re doing instead of why we’re doing it… but I want to take a step back and talk about why we’re doing it,” said Fishers Mayor, Scott Fadness during his State of the City address on Wednesday. Fadness announced the creation of the task force during the address.

“The Fishers PD has a progressive approach to dealing with subjects with mental illness,” said Officer Shawn Wynn with the Fishers Police Department.

In 2014, 157 people with a mental illness in Fishers were detained by police and EMS and treated in a mental health facility.

“Those officers are given specific instructions on how to deal with someone with a mental illness or developmental disability,” said Wynn.

Treating criminal cases that could be linked to a mental health illness are a big topic in Fishers right now.

At 17 years old, Maxwell Winkler is charged with the murder of 73 year old Henry Kim at a Fisher’s park. Winkler’s attorney says he suffers from “major depression,” his case is pending a psychiatric evaluation.

“I am so excited that we’re bringing the right people to the table to solve tough problems,” said Clifford.

There is hope that Fishers’ task force can be used a mental health help model for the rest of the country.

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