City officials reflect on mental health resources after officer-involved shooting | News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGG/WSHM)– The family of Orlando Taylor III spoke out about the lack of mental health resources in the city of Springfield.
We took their concerns to city leaders to see if they are doing anything to promote change.
Two city councilors are currently working to add more resources for people in Springfield struggling with mental health issues.
The death of Orlando Taylor III, the man who died in the officer involved shooting back on Jan. 9, is shedding light on a major issue in the city of Springfield.
“One of the touching things for me was when Orlando Taylor III’s mother said ‘what more can I do?’” said Justin Hurst, Springfield City Councilor at Large.
Taylor’s family says he struggled with his mental health and was in a crisis at the time of the shooting. They said they reached out to multiple community organizations for help.
“I think if but for Orlando Taylor III, receiving the treatment that he needs, he would be alive today,” said Hurst.
Now, city councilors Justin Hurst and Tracye Whitfield are working on changing things. First, they want awareness of resources to be better in the community…
“If someone were to ask me where they should go to seek mental health services, I probably would not be able to give them a good idea,” explained Hurst.
Western Mass News checked in with the city’s Health and Human Services department and found Springfield does have some resources specifically targeted to those dealing with mental health issues, including the behavioral health network, the center for human development and the Mental Health Association.
Councilor Hurst said he wants to start mental health education at a young age, starting in the Springfield School System.
“I’m sure there are individuals in our school system who are looking for help at an early age who don’t necessarily have access,” explained Hurst.
Councilor Whitfield said she has proposed a mental health intervention program for the city of Springfield.
“Limit the amount of force that is used in mental health crises…Dispatch would call on this crisis intervention team and it would be like an EMT or a nurse and a clinician or a social worker would go out and analyze the situation,” said Tracye Whitfield, Springfield City Councilor at Large.
However, money is the issue…
Councilor Whitfield said the council has approved moving COVID-19 funds around to kick start this program in the city.
“I think it’s just a decision that has to be made by the administration,” said Whitfield.
The intervention program would be used for non-violent people suffering from a mental health crisis. Councilors said they plan to continue these discussions about different strategies at upcoming council meetings.
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