DMHAS: Community Connections

Southeastern Mental Health Authority
Community Connections

Community Care Team

The Norwich Community Care Team began ten years ago as a ground level group of people working with the homeless in Norwich.  The initial goal was service planning – developing individualized plans to address the immediate needs of homeless people.  Today, the team has grown to include representatives from the W.W. Backus Hospital, the Norwich Police, the VA, the Southeastern Mental Health Authority, Norwich Human Services, Generations Health Care, the St. Vincent dePaul Soup Kitchen, and other key community agencies.  The team is a model of interagency cooperation.  Each year the team screens over 100 people for its eighteen bed winter shelter and finds permanent housing for about half of those individuals.  An increasing number are being diverted from homelessness before spending a single night in the shelter.

Interagency Emergency Management

In collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, SMHA, along with local public health departments, hospitals, EMS and other community health partners, serves on the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security’s (DEMHS) Region 4 Emergency Support Function 8 (Health and Medical).  This group develops, exercises, and coordinates response to large scale threats to the health of the general public in our communities, such as disease outbreaks, and natural and man-made disasters.  SMHA also serves on the DEMHS Region 4 Emergecy Support Function 6 (Mass Care and Sheltering).  This group, lead by the American Red Cross, develops, exercises, and coordinates regional plans and resources for providing mass sheltering operations in response to large scale events. 

Crisis Intervention Team

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program trains police in the unique techniques involved in responding to calls involving people with mental illness. Training results in fewer injuries to officers and the people in crisis, less need for lethal force, a decrease in  involuntary commitments and a reduction in officers’ time off patrol.   Riding along as part of the Norwich Police Crisis Intervention Team, are 2 Southeastern Mental Health Authority Social Workers who assist with de-escalating conflicts and crises involving people with mental illness.  The program has been a success for several years  in the Norwich/New London area, benefiting both the community and the individuals in crisis.  About 30 police departments currently have CIT policies, and another 30 are creating them.

Project Homeless Connect

Each year, the SMHA Housing Office participates with other community agencies in a one day event called Project Homeless Connect.  Free transportation to the event site is available for homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless in the Norwich and New London areas.  At the event, individuals can get immediate assistance with: Emergency Shelters, Housing Applications, Mental Health & Addiction Services, Legal Services, Employment Services, Social Security, Dept. of Social Services, Free Haircuts, Medical Services, Flu Shots, Eye, Hearing and Foot Care and much more.  Each year, close to 300 individuals attend this event.

Let’s Get Better Together Conference

Each year SMHA sponsors the Let’s Get Better Together Conference, an informational and wellness fair for clients, staff and members of the community. Tables, booths, health screenings  and demonstrations are offered by such agencies as Advocacy Unlimited, Norwich Parks and Recreation, Artreach, Inc., National Alliance for Mentally Ill, Shear Style School, TVCCA, World Gym, CT Legal Rights Project, The William W. Backus Hospital, Eastern Regional Mental Health Board, Hoop Group for Fitness, Zumba Class and Ageless Dance.  The fair is  well attended each year by over 125 people.

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Content Last Modified on 10/4/2011 2:45:01 PM