January 28, 2021
People Incorporated has worked closely with St. Paul Police Department’s Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit (COAST) for the past two years. This partnership that brings licensed clinical social workers alongside police to respond to the rising number of mental health calls our law enforcement receives each year. By embedding one of our social workers with law enforcement, People Incorporated is able to quickly connect individuals with resources, and follow up to ensure they were able to get the help they need.
We’re excited to announce that Melissa Reich, one of our experienced Homeless Outreach workers, has accepted a new role with People Incorporated, where she will be embedded with the COAST team to provide chemical health assessments and support to people facing challenges with addiction. She will be the first Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) to be embedded with SPPD.
“When someone is facing an addiction crisis, there’s often a very brief moment where people are ready to seek help. It can be very difficult to get someone help in that moment, as there are very few places people can go to get a chemical health assessment, which most treatment centers require ahead of time for admission. I’ll be able to provide that assessment as soon as they say they’re ready, walk them through the process of getting help, refer them to People Incorporated and other agencies with open beds, and then follow-up to ensure they’re getting the additional support they need,” says Melissa.
As People Incorporated looks to expand our community partnerships, collaborating with the St. Paul Police Department was a logical step forward in providing person-centered care that is core to our values.
“The COAST team is part of the solution. Partnering police officers with mental health workers ensures that the person experiencing crisis is getting all the services they need, not only in that moment, but later as well. By having someone trained in de-escalation there with them, we can bring a softer side to care. Instead of ‘You need to go to the hospital’ and then never seeing them again, the COAST team provides follow up care after someone has experienced a mental health crisis or an overdose. We are working with our community to hopefully avoid future crisis situations and gain access to services needed.” says Melissa.
There are a lot of overlapping areas between Melissa’s previous work with our Homelessness Outreach team and the work she’ll be doing as a part of the COAST team. She’ll continue to work closely with the Outreach team to incorporate harm-reduction techniques, provide assessments and remove barriers to treatment access.
When asked what she wanted the community to know about people struggling with addiction, Melissa said, “They’re all just people. They’re trying to make sense of the world around them – it’s so important that we don’t forget that. They need to be met with compassion.”