Front Line and Methuen Police to Create Behavioral Response Team with Federal Grant

Methuen Mayor Neil Perry and Police Chief Scott J. McNamara. (Courtesy photograph.)

Front Line and the Methuen Police Department will receive a $550,000 federal grant to use over three years to establish a community response team and community support center in Methuen to bolster behavioral health services.

Front Line CEO Matthew Page-Shelton and Police Chief Scott J. McNamara said Wednesday the Justice Mental Health Collaborative Partnership grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“Providing assistance during behavioral health crises and comprehensive follow up care are a far better way to address behavioral health issues than either arrests or involuntary emergency room visits, and we are committed to providing exactly those services to members of the Methuen community,” said Shelton.

The Community Response Team will include a masters-level behavioral health clinician, as well as peer support specialists, who will provide direct support to community members experiencing mental health crises.

The Community Support Center will provide Methuen Police a place where officers can refer individuals who are suffering from substance use or other behavioral health challenges for follow up care that includes post-crisis outreach, and supports that include peer support, benefits support, social determinants support and therapy.

McNamara added, “This new partnership will greatly enhance our response to behavioral health issues, and will create a more effective, comprehensive strategy for facing our nation and region’s mental health crisis. These are not issues that we can just arrest our way out of.”

The goal of both programs is to effectively address the substance use epidemic and mental health crisis while reducing the number of behavioral health calls that are responded to by law enforcement; to decrease unnecessary emergency room visits and arrests due to behavioral health issues; and increase connections to outpatient supports to those who are experiencing crisis.

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