Mesquite, TX – March 24, 2021 – The cities of Balch Springs, Seagoville, Sunnyvale and Mesquite have partnered for the first time to provide funding that will help assemble a cross-jurisdictional approach to address mental health response needs in their communities. The East Dallas Response Team will focus on proactive and reactive mental health services for citizens in all four of these cities. Mesquite will serve as the host agency for the team to coordinate training and operations of the programs that will be shared throughout the four cities.
The East Dallas Response Team, supported by a $900,000 Dallas County grant, is modeled after similar successful programs around the country. The program’s efforts will include services to check in on residents with a history of mental health issues to insure they are receiving the treatment and services needed. The team will also assist in the effort to provide assistance to homeless individuals who may not have access to mental health services.
“I’m thankful to Mesquite and our partner cities who were able to come together for this needed service,” said Sunnyvale’s Town Manager Susan Guthrie. “This would be a challenge for any one city to provide ongoing funding for this type of mental health effort. By pooling our resources between the four cities, we will be able to plant the seeds of a successful program that can grow to meet the needs of the community.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, states that one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness annually and less than 44% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2019.
“Mental health has been a growing concern across the country and in our community. This team will help reduce the number of calls our police officers respond to and the amount of time we spend handling those calls. We will now be able to get the right resources in a timely manner to those who need them,” said Susan Cluse, City Manager for Balch Springs.
The county’s grant funds will cover the cost of a vehicle and supplies, salaries for two team members and for training. “It is important that all aspects of public safety work together to effectively address mental health. The county’s grant will provide sufficient funding for all four cities to train every police officer, fire fighter and dispatcher in crisis response so that each mental health call is handled in a compassionate manner,” said Pat Stallings, Seagoville’s City Manager.
NAMI states the average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years and more than 10% of U.S. adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2019. Nationally, caregivers of adults with mental or emotional health issues spend about 32 hours per week providing care.
Mesquite City Manager Cliff Keheley explained, “Mental health has no boundaries, and neither will this team. We will share our resources. At this time, we don’t know the level of response needed. We are starting with one team and anticipate expanding the number of teams within a few years. The issue of mental health is a high priority for all of our city councils and all four cities have committed to providing funding in future years to maintain the team. The grant from Dallas County was essential to getting the program started. The formation of this team begins our collective journey towards addressing mental health for everyone.”