More than 45 organizations will come together for mental health on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Midlothian Community Park, 3601 S. 14th Street at 9 a.m. The occasion is a Mental Health Awareness Walk and Festival being held by Paws for Reflection Ranch, an animal-assisted activity and therapy facility that has been serving area families for 15 years.
The event is being held to raise awareness of mental health services in the community, as well as to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. Midlothian Police Department's Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) will be among those participating in the event.
Explains Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith, “In the past, the primary role of law enforcement has been to be “keepers of the peace.” However, during the last 34 years, I have seen incredible change within the policing profession. Modern police officers are so much more than simply peacekeepers. They have become problem-solvers, mentors, and collaborators with members of our community. Mental health, or should we say mental illness, is the root of many interactions with police officers today. Members of the public, who suffer from depression, forms of PTSD, chemical imbalances, or other disorders and conditions and are in distress, must be approached by a multidisciplinary team of professionals who bring a variety of tools to effectively alleviate crisis and assist the individual to receive treatment."
The CIU is on the forefront in helping to organize quarterly meetings for mental health professionals and agencies to help coordinate mental health services for our citizens. The CIU recently held a mental health summit that included expert presentations and roundtable discussions among law enforcement, healthcare providers, and mental health professionals.
The CIU also seeks to proactively connect with people or families of those with mental health issues in a nonthreatening environment to develop a relationship and learn the family's needs. For this they have established the Guardian Program, which allows those who qualify to register themselves or a loved one with the police department, so the police will be aware of the individual's needs, should they be called for assistance. Additional information about the Guardian Program is available through the Crisis Intervention Unit.
For more information about or to register online for the Mental Health Awareness Walk, visit www.PawsforReflectionRanch.org.
Midlothian Community Development Corporation is a premier sponsor of the Mental Health Awareness event.