New Horizons Behavioral Health Partners with Harris County First Responders in New Co-Responder Program
HARRIS COUNTY, GEORGIA – New Horizons Behavioral Health is expanding its services offered in Harris County by partnering with Harris County first responders in bringing new Co-Responder Program to the community. The Co-Responder Program will pair emergency service professionals with a New Horizons mental health professional in responding to incidents involving individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. The program will begin in Harris County on Monday, November 13th, 2023.
The Co-Responder Program is a collaborative approach to mental health crises that seeks to reduce harm and facilitate alternatives to arrest. It follows a model that has been proven successful in counties across the nation, including the New Horizons Co-Responder Program in Muscogee County which has served over 300 individuals in less than two years.
To bring this program to Harris County, New Horizons has partnered with local emergency services including the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County EMS, the E-911 Center, and the Police Departments of Waverly Hall, Hamilton, Pine Mountain, and Shiloh. Judge Thomas W. Lakes of the Harris County Probate Court is also an important partner and supporter of this program.
“We thank the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) for awarding Harris County the grant to fund this program and New Horizons Behavioral Health for navigating the grant process and hiring Ms. Dunlap,” Judge Lakes says. “Through these collective efforts, Harris County now has another tool to deliver much-needed help to those who are in crisis.”
Alesia Dunlap, a Licensed Professional Counselor who has practiced as a Clinical Therapist for several years, has joined New Horizons staff as the Harris County Co-Responder. Prior to the program’s official start date, she will be getting familiar with local first responders and the communities she will be serving.
“When law enforcement and mental health unite,” Ms. Dunlap says, “the teamwork can increase safety, strengthen communication, and improve effectiveness.”
The Co-Responder Program works when an individual in Harris County makes a 911 call about experiencing or witnessing a behavioral health crisis, triggering the operator to dispatch an emergency first responder accompanied by a trained mental health professional to access the situation. The pair then works together to create a recovery plan for the individual based on their behavioral health evaluation.
Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley commented on the new program saying, “the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be a part of this new and innovative program to help fast track our needs with the mental health issues of our community and keep our citizens out of the criminal justice system when their needs are medical.”
The New Horizons Harris County Service Center is located at 9993 GA Highway 116 Hamilton, GA 31811 and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. The service center serves Harris County residents in-person and virtually providing mental health and addictive disease services under the leadership of Program Director Norman Davis. For more information or to make an intake appointment, you can call Mr. Davis directly at 706- 566-7165, the Harris County office at 706-596-5500 ext. 5808, or visit nhbh.org.