MIDDLETOWN – Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D,I,WF-Forestburgh) announced Monday that she has secured $1 million in funding to expand crisis intervention services in communities around Orange County. According to Darcie Miller, Commissioner of Orange County Social Services and Mental Health, the money will be used to bolster services in the cities of Middletown and Port Jervis, and the towns of Wallkill and Mount Hope.
Gunther, Chair of the Assembly’s Mental Health Committee, said the county will be able to upgrade equipment and hire additional personnel who are suited to deescalate crisis situations. “We wanted to work with our partners in law enforcement and mental healthcare to ensure that people who need help are able to get it,” she said.
The county will hire a full-time Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator who will identify residents who have frequent interactions with police departments. This will allow the Coordinator to build engagement and rapport with these individuals to explore unmet needs. Advocates of the program say this will help bring together police and the community in focusing on how to better serve individuals living with mental illness.
Assemblywoman Gunther said, “This expansion of crisis intervention services will make a tremendous difference in our communities. More than one in five people experience a mental illness in a given year. It could happen to any of us. We need to make sure our communities are safe and that people have access to mental health services. This funding will help accomplish that.”
Commissioner Miller said, “Orange County is grateful for Assemblywoman Gunther’s understanding of the community needs and the support of the expansion of our crisis continuum. Building off the foundation of decades of work, this expansion will allow our partners additional staff in order to co-respond with law enforcement to people in crisis. The opportunity that this funding affords our community will improve quality response and safety for all involved in the intervention. We must work together to ensure that people with mental illness get the help they need and the follow-up support to maintain stability.”