A friendly rivalry will play out on the field later this month recognizing a trailblazing collaboration that has helped numerous New Bedford residents get the emergency mental health assistance they've needed.
When mental health calls come in, in most areas of the country, they are answered by police officers who may or may not have adequate mental health training to offer the best response. In New Bedford, and in a growing number of cities and towns across the country, that response has shifted to allow and include mental health workers.
It's an important collaboration that requires trust and recognition to work.
Locally, that collaboration includes the partnership of the city's police department and its emergency services program, Child & Family Services, who have been working together for the past two years in a clinician and police co-response program, where a behavioral health clinician and police officer respond jointly to mental health calls.
Jointly, they bring more skills to the response and can better assist people in crisis.
But that dynamic changes on July 24 when both groups will pull on their sneakers and put aside their collaboration for a competitive kickball game to help raise funds for preventing suicide.
In a Go Fund Me announcement seeking donations, Child and Family Services explained the team's goal for the upcoming game. "As partners, we are in agreement that suicidal behavior is one of the biggest challenges observed in this partnership and as a result, we are teaming up with community sponsors to host a summer kickball event to raise funds to spread suicide awareness through marketing campaigns and other avenues."
The community is invited to watch the game which starts at 10 a.m. at Clegg Field, 221 Brock Ave., New Bedford.
Help this innovative program reach its goal here: https://gofund.me/636a716f. Proceeds will go to the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition.