INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis mental health crisis response team will be getting another leg up starting next year.
The City-County Council approved its 2024 budget on Monday. In that budget comes increased funding for the Clinician-Led Community Response Team.
The new mental health pilot program kicked off back in July.
“We’re getting a lot of calls,” described Martine Romy Bernard-Tucker, who is the director of the Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety. “We’re getting an increase of calls. We’re getting more and more calls, which means that more people are getting the information out that there is a way to get mental health help if you call 911.”
Just in the first three months of the team’s existence, the group has already responded to 70 911 calls involving people in crisis.
“As long as it’s not anything that involves a threat, you know, like a gun or a weapon, you’re going to get a clinician who’s going to come to you and who’s going to be able to get you to that next step, you know, as, as quickly as possible,” Bernard-Tucker said.
Right now, the group only responds to calls downtown. However, the team’s budget is increasing by an additional $1 million, bringing its budget to a total of $3 million in 2024.
This allows the team to expand to Indy’s east side as well as downtown.
“That’s where most of the calls were coming from,” said Bernard-Tucker.
The group also will now be able to add 12 more staff members, totaling 24. The team aims to operate 24/7 starting in 2024, which Rev. David Greene Sr. with the Concerned Clergy said is crucial.
“Assistant Chief Bailey has said that 80% of IMPD’s runs are mental health-related,” Greene said. “So, you know these runs are happening on the second and third shift. These runs are happening on the weekend. So, we need resources out there.”
Greene said he would also like to see the city’s Mobile Crisis Assistance Team expand. That team features an IMPD officer and a clinician from Eskenazi Hospital but does not run 24/7.
“We need people who know how to de-escalate, who know how to bring things down, calm a situation down,” he said. “That’s when we have a better, safer community.”
Activists like Greene say they are glad to see some increased spending on these types of resources, but hope the city continues to promote these services so people know about them.
Right now the Clinician-Led Response Team is a three-year pilot program. It operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. but plans to expand to 24/7 service next year.