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Buffalo councilmember calls for collaboration to address mental health and drug abuse disorders

Health professionals say attitude toward mental health is positively changing
Posted at 11:34 AM, Sep 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-19 11:34:17-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo Common Councilmember is calling for collaboration to address mental health and drug abuse disorders following a recent police shooting.

Buffalo Common Councilmember Christopher P. Scanlon filed a resolution Friday which directs council staff to create a detailed list of agencies and nonprofits in Erie County that address mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.

Scanlon says the services of each should be detailed, as well as the number of people served each year, how accessible they are to the public, what their funding sources are and any other information.

Once the information is gathered staff should then identify any holes or gaps in services, according to Scanlon. All stakeholders will then be invited to discuss what needs to be done to serve the members of the community who suffer from mental health and drug abuse disorders.

Scanlon says statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cite nearly 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a mental health disorder but only half receive treatment.

The resolution filed by Scanlon comes following the shooting of Willie Henley, a man who was shot by Buffalo police during a mental health call.

A day after the shooting dozens of protesters took their calls for justice through the streets.

Scanlon released the following statement in regards to the matter:

“I am in full support of the Buffalo Police Department’s recently announced Behavioral Health Team, while it will help with calls the BPD receives regarding individuals in crisis, it does not address the root of the issue: How can we as a society do better to prevent people from reaching the point of needing this level of intervention? The time for a piecemeal approach to addressing mental illness, as well as correlating issues such as addiction and homelessness, has passed. The people suffering from these disorders require a holistic approach to their treatment in order to be as successful as possible and live healthy lives. I look forward to collaborating with and bringing together the many agencies and non-profits that treat these disorders, in an effort to be as impactful as possible in the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents."

The resolution will be on the agenda during the September 29 council meeting.