If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call the Maine Crisis Hotline at 888-568-1112.
A mental health worker will now accompany officers from some midcoast police departments to help de-escalate situations involving people in crisis and connect them to support services.
The mental health liaison, who works for the social service agency Sweetser, will be based in the Brunswick Police Department. He will also work with the Bath and Topsham police departments and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office.
A growing number of police departments from across Maine have partnered with social workers who go out with them on calls. The goal is to reduce the burden on police officers and connect more people with support services for mental health and substance use problems. Penobscot County and Bangor are among the communities that have taken this approach.
The liaison that will be working in the midcoast is Michael Maudlin, according to a press release from Sweetser. Maudlin will go out on calls alongside law enforcement and also respond to referrals. He will be offering resources such as de-escalation and mental health support, according to Sweetser.
The funding for his role comes from settlements with companies that fueled the opioid crisis. The state of Maine is receiving at least $235 million in settlement money over the next two decades.
Funds from the settlements go directly to towns, cities and counties that filed suits, according to the Office of the Maine Attorney General. Thirty percent is going to the municipalities and counties, 50 percent is going to the Maine Recovery Fund and the remaining 20 percent will go to the attorney general.
“It’s the best use of these funds to send back out in our communities to provide critical services that address the crisis we are currently experiencing,” Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry said in the release.
Jules Walkup is a Report for America corps member. Additional support for this reporting is provided by BDN readers.