Mental Health Focus of New Overland Park Police Effort

By Jeanene Kiesling

As police more and more grapple with mental health issues during calls, the Overland Park Police Department has a new resource to help out.

Megan Younger is a clinician who is trained to provide social services. She is now going out with officers to help them in volatile situations.

“After talking with someone for just a few minutes, sometimes I can see which way things are going to go,” Younger said. “As a clinician, I can go out in the community and determine if someone is in danger to themselves or others, and if they need inpatient hospitalization.”

Capt. Rick Castillo said Younger’s presence allows him and other officers to be “much better equipped to determine the best course of action.”

He said having someone who is trained specifically to handle mental health and substance abuse issues helps get help to those who need it faster, and get them the resources they need. It also helps officers get back on the street faster when responding to calls.

“We are trying to bring all resources together to help solve the problem on the front end so we don’t have to go back,” Castillo said. “It’s very important for some people to get help right then in case they are at a tipping point.”

Younger has handled about two dozen calls in her first three weeks.