The Pinellas Community Foundation announced Thursday it would distribute $2.6 million in CARES Act funding toward expanding mental health training and resources.
One of the initiatives will address a glaring need by giving law enforcement officers 24/7 access to telehealth mental health services. That would allow officers to remotely connect with a professional who could help them when they interact with someone with mental illness or who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Clearwater nonprofit Directions for Living is partnering with the Largo Police Department to test the program. Directions President and CEO April Lott said if successful, the program could be expanded to other law enforcement agencies that don’t have the resources to hire their own mental health counselors or social workers.
The goal, Lott said, is to help the person in need and take pressure off officers who often have limited training helping someone in crisis.