FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2023
City of Kingston Launches Mobile Mental Health Pilot Program
KINGSTON, NY – Mayor Steven T. Noble is pleased to announce that the City of Kingston, in conjunction with Ulster County and Access: Supports for Living, is launching a Mobile Mental Health pilot project, starting on Monday, February 6, 2023.
The first of its kind in upstate New York and one of only a few in the country, the program will pair a mental healthcare specialist with a Kingston Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician to staff a mobile response unit. The Mobile Mental Health response team of social worker and EMT will have a dedicated ambulance and will provide person-centric crisis response to mental health emergency calls. The team will work weekdays from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and will respond within the City of Kingston.
Ulster County 911 has a dedicated mental health dispatcher, and Kingston Police Department dispatchers have been trained to divert mental health calls. In addition to the Mobile Mental Health team, the entire Fire Department has been trained with an initial Crisis Intervention Training for Law Enforcement. Additional longer-form training is planned.
“We are proud to launch this new service as the first municipality upstate to implement a mobile mental health program,” said Mayor Noble. “We recognized that, with the growing mental health crisis, the need to provide more specialized services for our residents. With our highly-trained Fire Department and a mental health professional, we will be able to provide the support our community needs in situations that would have previously involved law enforcement. I thank the Kingston Fire Department for their leadership in this endeavor, and the County for their support.”
Tara McDonald, Commissioner of the Ulster County Department of Mental Health, said, “We are so excited to partner with the City of Kingston to expand our Mobile Mental Health Team. Our longstanding partnership with Access: Supports for Living allows for a 24-7-365 community response to anyone presenting with a mental health challenge. Now, residents who call the City of Kingston for help will be able to have a mental health professional accompanied by an experienced EMT come to where they are to provide support and assistance in their time of need. We know that mental health is a central part of our overall health and wellness. It is vital that our mental and emotional wellbeing are also being cared for when we reach out in an emergency.”
Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said, “Ulster County is proud to partner with the City of Kingston and Access on this Mobile Mental Health pilot project, which will bring much-needed additional supports to City residents while also reducing the burden on law enforcement so they can better focus on public safety issues. I am hopeful that this program will become a model for communities across the County and the state and will provide real, on-site, immediate assistance to our residents who are experiencing mental health emergencies.”
Barbara Hill, City of Kingston Alderperson, Ward 1 said, “This Mobile Mental Health Program is yet another demonstration of how Kingston takes excellent care of its residents. As a licensed clinical social worker, I designed a variety of mental health crisis services similar to this program. Most importantly, my brother is a person with serious mental health challenges, and we have utilized the help of the UC Mobile Mental Team. That team’s help spared my family two potential trips to the psychiatric ER and possible police intervention. This team is an essential service.”
In 2021, the City of Kingston’s Re-envision Public Safety Task Force spent weeks looking closely at local law enforcement practices and procedures, then provided a detailed report for improving police/community relations. A mental health crisis response was among the top recommendations.
The Mobile Mental Health pilot project was funded by the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC), represented by the Office of Community Renewal, through May 2023, and will continue with ARPA funds.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911, KPD dispatch at 845-331-1671, or the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by texting 988 or chatting at 988lifeline.org.
For more information, please visit: www.engagekingston.com/mobile-mental-health-program.