By Shawn Hardy
Franklin County has received a Justice Public Safety Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties for the South County Mental Health Co-Responder Program in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The award honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
Kay Martin, Keystone Health mental health community liaison and co-responder, works with the police departments in Greencastle, Waynesboro and Washington Township and helps connect individuals identified as being in crisis with community-based support services. In addition to helping reduce the number of people with mental health issues involved in the criminal justice system, the program has also helped connect a lot of senior citizens with services, according to a news release from county commissioners.
The mental health co-responder program is funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. It has directly touched the lives of 200 Franklin County residents in the last year and Martin has had over 950 interactions with people in crisis.
“This collaboration between law enforcement and mental health has been the most productive and successful collaboration that I have seen in my career,” said Greencastle Police Chief John Phillippy.
“This is a program that has made our communities and our law enforcement personnel safer,” he continued. “It has successfully placed mental health care into the community rather than the sterile environment of an office. It has brought care to our citizens who otherwise would not have received care.”