Madison County connects people in crisis to mental health resources

WAMPSVILLE, NY (WSYR-TV) – Madison County is finding ways to address mental health in the community. Their 911 dispatchers are trained to determine when someone is having a crisis and connect them to services.

The 911 diversion program began in October 2021. Frank McFall, the Madison County 911 manager, said they saw a need. “There’s been a huge increase from before the pandemic to now, only mental health calls have skyrocketed.”

When dispatchers receive a call, they must ask a series of questions. “What’s going on and why do you feel like this?” Then we ask a few questions like if they feel like hurting themselves and we’ll ask them if you have a plan? He says if they have a plan, law enforcement may have to get involved. If they don’t, they transfer the call to the county crisis line.

Kathryn Hopkins is the Mental Health Treatment Clinic Program Coordinator for the Madison County Offices of Mental Health. She is one of the people who takes certain calls. “A lot of times you know they might be having a panic attack, or they’re really distressed and crying.” She says they may need support. “There may be a need for another intervention, but that allows more time to determine if something is going on.”

She believes that having something like this available to the community benefits everyone. “It helps the person in the community to feel supported in a way that they might not even realize they wanted because they are in touch with someone who can support them when they is in distress, and it allows the police to be available for the crime or other things that are going on, and not feel pressured to respond to a mental health crisis when that’s not what they’re for are specifically trained.

She says that after speaking with the person in crisis, she checks in with them if they are receiving treatment or ongoing support. If they don’t, they give them resources so they can get what they need.

The crisis line number is (315) 366-2327.

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