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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — According to the state of Tennessee, more than 120,000 Tennesseans experiencing a crisis called for help during the 2022 fiscal year. That’s why city leaders gathered Monday morning to address the issue. 

“What else are we doing outside of our comfort zone to really get at the heart of these issues?” Shelby County Health Department Director Michelle Taylor asked.

It was a question posed several times at the Alliance Healthcare Services Mental Health Awareness breakfast at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the efforts between law enforcement, first responders, and mental health organizations to address mental illness in Memphis.

According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in 2020, nearly 65,000 people in Shelby County over the age of 9 were estimated to have a serious mental illness or emotional disturbance.

125,000 residents over the age of 12 were estimated to have a substance use disorder.

“Too often untreated individuals commit crime,” Mayor Jim Strickland said.

Speakers from numerous offices including the Shelby County Sheriff’s office and Memphis Police Department spoke on their organization’s efforts. Ultimately, each speaker says it boils down to partnerships in the community and proper training in order to better identify someone who may be in distress.

“We’re now training all of our recruits on crisis intervention training as they go through the academy,” MPD Chief CJ Davis said.

The state says 13.8% of all crisis calls across the state happen within Shelby County. Community leaders say the goal is to find a more effective way to get those people help.

“There’s treatment out there that gives people their quality of life back. There’s no need to suffer with this and we need to talk about it,” Janice Davidson-Winger of Alliance Healthcare Services said.

If you know someone experiencing a crisis, you can call the Alliance Healthcare Services 24/7 hotline at 901.577.9400