Mental health crisis continues to impact local police

Need for more mental health resources in Maryland
Posted at 5:43 PM, Dec 02, 2016

A man threatened police with a rifle. A woman was charged with stabbing her grandmother 30 times. Police encountered a man acting irrationally, threatening people with knives. All are recent Baltimore area crimes where a mental health problem could be to blame.

Fred Delp is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a support group for those individuals dealing with mental health and their families. Delp has seen mental health issues rise over the years.

“The Mental Health problem is in Anne Arundel County and throughout the state of Maryland and throughout our nation. It's difficult for people, it's not an illness like cancer or a broken leg,” Delp said.

A problem that is hard to diagnose and even harder, for some, to accept, Delp said there is a need for more awareness.

“It's very confusing," he said. "The problem is raising the awareness out there and the stigma against it. Many people still have a stigma against mental illness and their families and they're not aware of all the things that are out there. It's a difficult course to find help.”

In the past week, in a span of three days, Anne Arundel County Police had two occasions of dealing with people that seem to be suffering some sort of mental difficulties.

Anne Arundel County police chief, Timothy Altomare has seesnthe strain first hand. 

“We have a problem and I think as a society we definitely have a resource allocation problem," he said. "There are not enough mental health beds in this state. There needs to be more mental health beds in this state. There needs to be more places that that people can go to get help long term, short term, mid-term. So I think without talking about anybody's personal health business I can tell you that that's for sure.

Delp, with NAMI, said new mental health beds are being added to two hospitals in Anne Arundel County.

“With that total coming to 40 to 50 we will still be under what we need in the county," Delp said. "This is a crisis all around the nation. We need acute psychiatric beds for people that need a longer stay, seven, 10, 20 days. Things like that.”

While there are great needs, Delp said the key is more awareness for everyone in the community. 

“All of these places are taking more and more steps that are positive, more and more steps that are increasing the awareness and reducing the stigma,” he said.

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