The Leon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) Mental Health Unit (MHU) started in October 2021. As we are all aware, mental health can impact anyone at any time. Since this program started, MHU Deputies and Counselors have seen an increase in the number of consultations and referrals provided to clients. To be able to offer the best services available, MHU Deputies partner with Apalachee Center Counselors and ride together daily in the same vehicle to support and offer services to clients. These three sets of dynamic specialty team members work Monday through Friday from 8 AM to midnight to support those in the community.
This partnership between LCSO and the Apalachee Center allows for a joint approach, allowing both law enforcement and individuals with master’s in social work to collaborate. Having this blend of expertise has been known to reduce negative outcomes and limit the number of court orders based on mental health complications. It also gives clients a chance to outline their frustrations without the thought of being detained and/or arrested for experiencing a mental health episode. The overall goal of this unit is to improve the safety of officers and community members while reducing the number of calls for police service related to mental health crises.
MHU Deputies and Counselors also attend routine trainings, events, and workshops with other law enforcement agencies and mental health providers to maintain awareness and best practices on handling different circumstances. They also utilize individualized and personalized approaches to working with people and understating the various circumstances.
The number of success stories MHU Deputies and Counselors receive daily is exceptional. These stories not only save lives, but they also help reconnect families. Additionally, clients continue to reach out even after receiving services to thank the team for their support and provide them with status updates. Most of the updates are incredibly positive and tie directly back to service providers and resources within the local community.
Addressing mental health concerns will continue to be a prominent topic. This includes, but is not limited to, people refusing services, a lack of understanding of what the MHU program can provide, and a fear by clients of not being understood. With ongoing support from local partners and businesses, this unit, team, and community will thrive and allow many people to receive services that may otherwise not have access to offerings.