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Texas A&M Police join mental health services to create co-responder program

Posted: 7:36 AM, Feb 22, 2024
Updated: 2024-02-22 08:36:19-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Dr. Kari Becker is the Assistant Director of Counseling Services at Texas A&M University.

“We’ve been noticing a trend that’s actually occurring nationally where there [is] a rise in the mental health needs of individuals and a rise in the demand for mental health services,” Dr. Becker said.

Her team brainstormed how University Health Services could collaborate with University Police to better serve students.

“Our law enforcement officers [and] I think were responding to more and more involving mental health concerns, so it made sense to partner with University Health Services,” Dr. Becker said.

SEE MORE: Texas A&M expands mental health app to all university system students

Assistant Chief of Police for Texas A&M Bobby Richardson understands college can be an initial tough transition for students.

“It’s their first time away from home, first time away from mom and dad, first time away from their support system,” Richardson said. “Concern for mental fitness is a top priority. Here at the University Police Department, our mission is to really help folks with life issues as we come across them.”

Megan McCarty is a licensed professional counselor embedded within the University Police Department.

She is the first to serve in this position at Texas A&M and jointly responds to calls with officers part of the ACES program—short for Assistance, Connection and Engagement Services.

“…Helping the person sort of breathe, maybe calm down a little bit, having some of those open conversations, all the way up to connecting them with resources,” Megan McCarty said.

McCarty’s role is the bridge between law enforcement and counseling needs.

“We also know that sometimes showing up with the uniform can cause a little anxiety so having Megan along to help navigate that process and offer resources to those in need is just a great benefit to our community as a whole,” Richardson said.

“I think our overall vision and hope is that we could have a co-responder who’s on working 24/7, 365, so that way there’s always a mental health provider to assist an officer for those mental health calls,” Dr. Becker said.

“We’re pretty proud of the fact that we’re the only local law enforcement agency here with a co-responder program anywhere in this area,” Richardson said. “Again, the overall goal is to assist and help the community and I think we’re on the right track to do that.”