Three Fairbanks organizations received grants from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to improve psychiatric crisis response in the community.

A total of $930,000 was split between the city of Fairbanks, Alaska Behavioral Health and the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living. The grants will be used to help Fairbanks better respond to behavioral health crises in primary ways β€” first, through the creation of a mobile crisis response team and, second, by supporting coordination between local government, emergency services, law enforcement and community health care stakeholders.

The largest chunk of money went to Alaska Behavioral Health. The organization was awarded $457,067 to fund professional mental health clinicians. These clinicians will staff the mobile crisis team, which is jointly operated by the city of Fairbanks and The Bridge Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living.

The city of Fairbanks received $130,400 for a crisis response community coordinator. This position will serve as a liaison between the Fairbanks Crisis Response Community Implementation Team, the Mental Health Trust and key stakeholders.

Teal Soden, communications director for the city of Fairbanks, explained that the grant will allow Michael Sanders to transition from homeless and housing coordinator to Crisis Now community coordinator. In this capacity, he will implement the Crisis Now model in Fairbanks.

β€œThe addition of the Crisis Now model will be a huge asset to our first responders to our residents,” Soden said, because there have historically been limited options when an individual calls 911 during a behavioral health crisis.

The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living received $350,000 for peer support specialists. Peers, who are in recovery from mental health disorders and/or substance abuse, will be part of the mobile crisis team.

The Alaska Mental Health Trust and its partners are working to implement the Crisis Now model, a continuum of services to improve mental health crisis response. A key component of the model are mobile response teams. These teams, which ideally include a clinician and a peer, are available 24/7 to respond in-person to crises.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.

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