In response to a community request for more information on how to respond to someone who might be in crisis, the Town of New Paltz held a Zoom meeting, Q&A and created a series of YouTube videos to help.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly strained many people’s mental health.
The Zoom meeting and Q&A on Dec. 1 was not recorded nor posted anywhere intentionally to help keep people’s personal information and concerns private. However, The Oracle was given permission by the professionals on the panel to reference and quote some of their tips and suggestions.
Additionally, videos are available for the New Paltz community to understand more about what New Paltz offers in terms of response and preparedness for someone in crisis.
One of the videos was a conversation with Phoenix Kawamoto, the Community Education Coordinator for New Paltz, and members of the New Paltz Police Department (NPPD) on what they’re doing and have done in regards to preparation for mental health incidents and responses.
“We have made mental health training a priority,” said the NPPD Chief Robert Lucchessi in one of the videos.
“For us, you know, we understand that very often we may be that first phone call, so we want people to understand, number one, that we have implemented training to help us cope with those situations,” Lucchessi said. “But we’re also aware enough to understand that we can’t always handle them, and we may not always be the best option.”
To help people in crisis find the best resources, Chief Lucchessi added that the NPPD works with other mental health providers, such as Mobile Mental Health, when possible, especially if there is no immediate threat to the individual.
“20% of our agency right now is certified as critical incident team responders,” said Officer Philipp Kraus, who is a certified police instructor for police mental health in-services as well as a certified crisis intervention team instructor.
Matt Goodnow, Chief of the New Paltz Rescue Squad, also joined in the video to talk about what Rescue Squad has been doing to better prepare for mental health crises.
The video is available here.
In addition to a conversation with NPPD and Rescue Squad, there was a recorded video conversation with mental health professionals and Kawamoto.
“One of the things we want people to get the message about is if you have a concern about yourself, a loved one, a friend, a neighbor, please reach out and call,” said Trish Tuber of Mobile Mental Health, in the video. “We will get you the right help. We will get you the right resources.”
Mobile Mental Health is a service available from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. open year round, including on holidays. It is free to anyone in Ulster County. Family of Woodstock also operates a mental health crisis line that is available 24/7.
The most powerful message all of the mental health professionals and first responders offered in both the Zoom Q&A as well as the videos, was the simple act of reaching out to someone you think is in crisis, or calling for help.
“We know that the earlier you connect with someone, the more likely a positive outcome is,” said Tamara Cooper of Family of Woodstock. “Reaching out to someone who seems to maybe be struggling a little bit, is one of the best ways to begin the process of getting help to someone.”
The video also shares resources that New Paltz offers specifically to help young people (up to age 26) with a conversation with Linda Guglielmo of Astor Services for Children and Families.
The following are some of the resources available to residents:
Mobile Mental Health: (844) 277-4820
Family of Woodstock: CALL/TEXT (845) 679-2485
Astor Services for Children & Families: (845) 340-4105
More information and resources including places to call and ways to seek help can be found here.