Chapel Hill hosts the National Co-Responder Conference, highlights those responding to mental health crises

The third annual National Co-Responder Conference, or CoRCon, was held this week at the Carolina Inn.

Nearly 40 workshops and in-depth sessions were held from 6 to 8 June, with key speeches and events focusing on combining police response with behavioral health specialists.

More than 300 professionals from across the country attended the conference, hosted and sponsored by the International Co-Responder Alliance.

Co-response is a strategy used by some rescuers and law enforcement agencies that includes bringing mental or behavioral health professionals to respond to emergency calls and crisis situations, with the aim of reducing and improving the quality of interactions of first responders with the public.

Annie Burwell, head of public information on the ICRA Board of Trustees, said nationwide representation at the conference shows that the country is starting to accept co-response as a viable option for first responders dealing with situations. behavioral health.

“For everyone involved in the first response, to collaborate with industry experts, it’s really exciting,” Burwell said. “It helps us to provide the best services to people in an emergency.”

Burwell heads the Crisis Response Unit at local firefighters in Round Rock, Texas and said he has had extremely positive experiences with the co-response model.

He said loved ones of those in crisis are grateful when they can talk to mental health professionals instead of getting a harsh response from the police or firefighters.

“Being able to keep people in their community, instead of transporting them to a place that maybe won’t help them, is a wonderful feeling,” Burwell said.

One of the seminars held on Monday was a presentation by the Douglas County, Colorado Youth Community Response Team. Having a law enforcement officer, mental health professional, and case manager for each case, the unit has managed to have several hundred successful meetings and connect young people with mental health resources.

The unit defined a successful encounter as one in which no further action was required, such as sending an individual to the emergency room.

Burwell, who has experience working with teens on behavioral health issues, said he thinks co-response is the best option for young people struggling with their mental health.

“We know juvenile suicides are on the rise, we know there are problems with mass shootings, so obviously co-response is a perfect model to meet some of these needs,” he said. “For those highly acute and potentially dangerous situations, the co-response is perfect.”

Chapel Hill’s co-response team, the Crisis Unit, was founded in 1973. Its five human services professionals respond with agents to calls involving domestic violence, notifications of death and trauma, among other situations.

One of the Chapel Hill Police Department’s newest crisis advisers, Jordan Hyler, said that in his six months on the job he had already answered about 100 calls.

“What we are able to do is target those people who need a higher level of care,” Hyler said. “The more they build a relationship with us as consultants, the more we can be that link to put them in touch with resources, we are able to lighten the load on our officers and our hospital staff.”

In addition to answering calls with officers, Chapel Hill Crisis Counselors follow people, educate first responders, and administer the Criminal Justice Debt Program, which alleviates debt related to fines and taxes imposed by the court.

“Whenever our CHPD crisis unit consultants are called into our community, we know they are making a difference and I am confident that the agencies participating in CoRCon will gain new insights into how they can provide the same level of service in their community. “Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said in a June 6 press release.

Chapel Hill Community Safety Public Information Officer Alex Carrasquillo said crisis counselors left the conference feeling inspired by the sessions they attended. He said they take pride in the work they do and appreciate learning from others.

“It is exciting to see how fast the co-response field is growing,” he said.

@ ethanhorton1

@DTHCityState | [email protected]

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