Since October the city has dispatched co-responders in Charlestown as part of a pilot program to better address mental health crisis calls. This form of co-response and alternative response deploys teams of Emergency Medical Technicians and mental health workers to respond to 911 calls that report a mental health crisis without a safety risk.
Since the launch of the pilot program here, Downtown and Roxbury, co-response teams have been working to improve and expand dedicated teams of police officers and mental health workers.
The Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that applications are now being accepted for the Community-Led Design Group for mental health crisis response. This group of community members will be composed of Boston residents with professional and/or lived experience with mental health issues who are committed to designing a pilot for a community-led response to mental health crises.
Like the current program in Charlestown, the Health and Human Services Cabinet (HHS), Boston Police Department (BPD), and Boston EMS will create pilot programs to reimagine the way Boston responds to mental health crises in neighborhoods. This collaboration, which included multiple community listening sessions and public meetings, resulted in three pilot plan initiatives to improve mental health responses by improving the existing co-response model in Charlestown; introducing an alternative response, led by Boston-EMS and mental health workers; and now by creating a community-led response.
The goal of this program is to assemble a group of individuals from a variety of Boston neighborhoods, identities, and backgrounds. The Design Group members must be Boston residents and dedicated community members who are willing to engage in this challenging process. Community members are encouraged to reference their own lived experience and how it shapes their desire to join the Design Group in their application. Translation services will be made available for residents who do not speak English and candidates can request their preferred language in the application.
A monetary stipend of $1,200 will be provided to each member in acknowledgment of the time and effort that goes into serving on the Design Group and to help offset any necessary childcare and transportation costs associated with their participation. All applications must submit their applications by mail or in person at City Hall (suite 806).
“As we re-imagine the City’s response to mental health crises in our neighborhoods, it’s critical that we make sure that the voices of community members are represented,” said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. “The Community-led Design Group is an important component in a multi-pronged approach that brings those voices to the table.”
This work to develop this response is in partnership with unions representing BPD and EMS employees.