I believe that having a mental health professional on call 24/7 as part of the Acton Police Department is important. If community members have an emergency, what is the number they are told to call? 911. This prompts a response from the Police Department. If a resident needs immediate help for a mental health issue, it is not usually a police officer that they need, it is a mental health professional – and often the options for immediate help are not available. Citizens should be able to reach out and connect with a professional in the mental health field and get the help they need and this should be a community safety priority. I am also mindful of budget concerns and think that there may be room to reallocate some town budget to address these positions. I believe there needs to be a close review of the police budget line items to identify and re-allocate any wasteful redundant spending, considering evidence-based outcomes.
A few years ago, Actonians felt the unfortunate collective heartbreak of child suicides in our town, which resulted in much sadness and concern. These tragedies also caused negative press, alarming people considering relocating to Acton. A gentleman who attended an open house I was hosting asked me, “What is going in Acton, with kids committing suicide?” It is a question that I did not expect to hear while hosting an open house – it chilled me and challenged me to consider – what can we do to help?.
Many people in our town are suffering with mental health issues. Let’s start supporting each other – as individuals grow and heal, so does our community as a whole.