By Leo Zou, Richmond Confidential
Health care professionals have partnered with law enforcement officers and community organizations to locate and assist the mentally ill in Richmond.
The newly formed joint team, called the Forensic Multidisciplinary Team, will work together to intervene, provide treatment and refer those in need to services that include food, clothing or temporary housing, said Erika Barrow, an administrative service analyst with Contra Costa Health Services.
“We just had our first meeting and we are excited to get it started,” Barrow said, referring to the first coordinating meeting Tuesday at the Richmond Police Department.
“We meet and we try to assist these people on a case-by-case basis for the benefit of clients and community. We work collaboratively with each other on planned intervention, service delivery and client management,” she said.
A similar program to assist mentally troubled people has been running successfully in central Contra Costa County for the past 12 years, according to Barrow, and it tracks 15 to 20 people. Barrow was uncertain how many residents from Richmond would need help.
Matt Stonebraker, a Richmond police officer, said police would identify and refer people who are reported by neighbors or those who call the police themselves in order to get services.
“These are people out there that need help but just don’t want to ask for any help,” Stonebraker said. “Sometimes they just need attention and we are there to give it to them.
“We take calls for services and then we go out and make contact with them to see if they meet the criteria. If they do, then we start helping them,” said Stonebraker, adding that people will make their own decisions about accepting aid.