Lexington, Kentucky (LEX 18) – The city of Lexington set a new homicide record in May, and according to crime data for the Lexington Police Department, at least 36% of victims were from domestic violence. Analyzing this, more attention is paid to the relationship between mental health and crime.
Mayor Linda Gorton brought together a group of community experts and safety officials to discuss solutions on June 1. Regular meetings are expected after that.
“I want to make sure our community understands that there are many factors, such as mental health, that are linked to the recent violence in our city. We have staff and programs currently working with those affected by mental illness. We have been working with community partners for a while, and they have great programs to support health Mental. Our goal is to help amplify the resources available, so that our community knows what to do when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis,” Gorton said in a statement Friday.
What is happening
While police say recently, they’re seeing a lot of mental health-related calls to service, so have community mental health experts at New Vista, a nonprofit that provides outpatient services to nearly 25,000 adults, children, and families in 17 central Kentucky counties.
“I don’t have exact numbers on what’s coming into our agency because of the pandemic. But what I can say is we’ve seen an increase in referrals from schools, we’ve seen an increase in calls to our helpline, and we’ve,” said Julie Josky, regional director of health initiatives at CCBHC. We’ve seen an increase in requests for service and crisis interventions. Therefore, I think it would be foolish to think that the epidemic has not affected the people who have contracted it.”
New Vista annually provides $700,000 in free clinical services, maintains a staff of 200 licensed therapists, psychiatrists, and nurses, serves the community at 52 program sites, and receives more than 75,000 phone calls to its 24-hour helpline, 1,800,928,800. A helpline has also seen an increase in calls.
In January they received 6,681 calls. In February they received 6,369 calls and in May they answered 7,568 calls. This includes all lines such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline that are directed at them as well.
New Vista’s mobile crisis team has consulted or responded to the scene for Lexington Police at least 30 times.
“That partnership started before the pandemic, but it has really intensified over the past several years,” Josky said.
Overall, so far this year, the mobile team averaged 110 requests per month. The team provided interventions, consultations, and evaluations.
“As an agency, I think that the role and role of community mental health is forever to be that safety net for the other communities it serves. And I really feel like New Vista is working really hard to be that safety net this time around,” Josky said.
Why is that happening
Community leaders believe that if people use available resources, it may lead to an increase in mental health crises.
“I think sometimes people don’t realize all the resources out there, they don’t know where to go,” Josky said.
Fayette County Courthouse Judges Melissa Moore Murphy and Lindsey Thurston see the effects of missed opportunities to address mental health through cases in their courtrooms.
“We often see both,” Thurston said. “We see a crime that has been committed, we see mental health concerns in the same person.”
The non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation reported that in 2018-2019, 67.3% of adults in Kentucky had mild mental illness, 49.6% of adults with moderate mental illness, and 30.4% of adults with moderate mental illness. Serious mental illness did not receive mental health treatment.
To put that in perspective, 30% represents 61,000 adults in Kentucky.
Judge Murphy sees how that can happen all the time.
“Yes, there are individuals who commit crimes just because they commit crimes, and I am not naive to think that we can help everyone by providing these services, but there are some individuals who we know are first-time perpetrators,” Murphy said.
That’s why they work to connect people accused of a crime with resources while also holding them accountable.
“The only thing we do is make sure that we connect people to resources. And that we don’t let them find out for themselves,” Murphy said. “Sometimes someone needs this hand-holding, ‘Let’s take you to the new Vista, let’s take you to this place to work on this mental health assessment’ and I think sometimes we need to realize that sometimes it takes.”
“We hear about those tough situations like school shootings and things like that and we say like how we can prevent that through mental health care and there are definitely some things that we can do, but we also have to realize that we are not going to prevent absolutely everything,” Josky said. Every time”.
While most people who navigate the criminal justice system have serious health care needs, https://bjs.ojp.gov/content/pub/pdf/imhprpji1112.pdf Less than 10% of shootings nationwide involve a suspect with a mental illness.
“Statistically, a person with a mental illness is more likely to be a victim of a crime than a perpetrator. But at the same time, they may not be getting the help they need. They may not be related to medication, they may not be related to counseling,” Josky said.
That’s why experts are careful not to link all violent crimes to mental health so as not to create a negative stigma around needing help.
“It’s always going to be there, but if we get the right people together. If we work hard to make it happen. If we get the resources and make sure those people are known to the people,” Thurston said.
They are hopeful that the negative trend they see now will eventually reverse.
“There is never a one-size-fits-all decision for everyone, so we have to make sure that we pay attention. We have to make sure that our attorneys general and our defense board pay attention to be more proactive rather than always reactive and sometimes they have to think outside the box,” Thurston said.
The judges say this is the importance of having these conversations and why they got into their field in the first place.
“I wouldn’t be in that role, I don’t think any of my colleagues would be in that role if we didn’t care about this community and care about the people in it,” Thurston said.
Thurston and Murphy often hold creative brainstorming sessions together to try to come up with solutions to problems they see as mental health crises.
“I think every judge, it should be a personal decision for them to do it. Otherwise, you won’t do it with the right passion, you won’t do it with the right energy, you won’t do it if it just becomes a job,” Murphy said.