Starting in July, there will be a Clinician-Led Community Response program which will respond to nonviolent mental health 911 calls. This program is intended to add to resources provided by the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team led by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Assessment and Intervention Center.

The program was announced May 15 at a press conference held in the City-County Building, with representatives from several programs across the city in attendance, including the Office of Public Health and Safety, the City-County Council, Faith in Indiana, Stepping Stone Therapy Center and the Phoenix Nicholas Center.

According to District 7 Councilman John Barth, conversations regarding additional investments for behavioral health resources have been occurring since January of 2020.

“I hope that it raises awareness that the city is taking the need to address behavioral health seriously,” Barth told the Recorder.

Discussions surrounding public health and criminal justice reform began in 2021, and nearly five months later came to fruitation. In October of 2022, the City-County Council approved the use of $2 million budgetary dollars to start the program.

The goal of the program is to provide proper resources to residents during emergencies and reduce avoidable involvement with law enforcement.

“Today’s announcement of the Clinician-Led Community Response team will allow us to transform how our city responds to and supports people experiencing a mental health crisis,” Barth said in a statement. “That is why my colleagues and I on the Council have been proud to advocate for this program.”

According to Barth, the program will allow 911 dispatchers to be trained on how to assess situations and to determine at the time of a call if a Clinician-Led Community Response is necessary.

The response team will operate out of the City-County Building and will include a clinician supervisor, clinical social worker and peer specialist.

“The Clinician-Led Community Response team in Indianapolis is the first step toward a fully reimagined plan surrounding access to mental health services for the residents of Indianapolis,” said Bianca Harris, CEO and founder of the Phoenix Nicholas Center, in a statement.

Contact staff writer Timoria Cunningham at 317-762-7854. Follow her on Twitter @_timoriac.