News Day Tuesday: Proposal to open safe havens in St. Tammany Parish.

News Day Tuesday, stigma

This week, I have some optimistic news to share! St. Tammany Parish is planning to present a proposal to New Orleans city officials regarding a safe haven for people suffering from mental health issues as well as a day center for homeless families.

The plan is to offer services related to mental health crisis intervention and management (which is aimed at keeping people with mental health issues from ending up in jail, or worse). The center, which will be run by the National Alliance on Mental Health, is designed to be a safe place where people taken into custody by police can receive medical care and be stabilized, as opposed to being thrown in jail by default.

There has been an overwhelming influx of news articles about dangerous and often tragic interactions between police officers and people living with mental illness, so I’m pretty excited about this proposal. Even if New Orleans city officials don’t bite, I’m hoping  that this will set a precedent and spur more cities to action. It’s become obvious that we need more proactive, helpful approaches to de-escalating situations and actually helping people instead of just sticking them in holding cells with little to no treatment.

I’m planning to keep an eye on this one for sure. While other cities offer similar programs, the issue as a whole could certainly use a boost in publicity.

So, question time, readers: Does your city have any type of safe haven program? And, more importantly, are they well-known?

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