Mayor Gary Christenson recently celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month and thanked Marilyn Andrews, chair of the Disability Commission and the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), a statewide grassroots organization that advocates for improved access to mental health services for children, youths and their families. With Andrews’ assistance, the city participated in PPAL’s “Light Up Green” campaign – lighting the bridge near City Hall in green lights in support of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The mayor took the opportunity to acknowledge the collaborative effort between our Police Department and Eliot Community Human Services (Eliot) to provide a full-time licensed mental health clinician through grants from the Edward J. Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant and the Melrose/Wakefield-Hallmark Grant with special thanks to Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe, who identified and sought the grant funding. The program, called the “Community Clinician Integration Program” responds to a critical need as mental health–related calls began to increase significantly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Having the clinician co-respond with an officer provides the police with an effective, alternative response to individuals in crisis by allowing, in many cases, an on-site clinical assessment of the individual, giving them the best possible treatment options from the start. Christenson thanked Eliot and the Police Department for their participation and for being willing to be open to this initiative.