Prude Death Investigation

Adam Bello: The county spends $40 million on mental health, ‘clearly it’s not working’

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello is calling for change in mental health systems in the wake of the death of Daniel Prude.

Bello said he’s talked to the RASE commission about speeding up the process to make changes in mental health and law enforcement systems.

“You call 911 for almost any other reason you get a police officer, that doesn’t help anybody that doesn’t necessarily help the person who’s calling 911 and needs help and what we really need to do is figure out how we change that whole system so the reason you’re calling 911 for help, help arrives and it’s the right type of help,” he said.

Mental health professionals at Rochester Regional Health are shedding some light on what the process looks like now and how the system can be changed. Mary Marrocco is the medical director for emergency and consultative psychiatry at Rochester Regional. She said in an emergency mental health call, a person can be brought to the emergency room if they present a danger to themselves or others. Once they’re brought in, mental health professionals evaluate them for several hours to determine whether they should be admitted.

“We do not want to be taking people’s freedom away from them if there isn’t a compelling reason to do so. So we are able to hold someone as long as necessary to ensure that there is not an imminent risk to themselves or others. But once there is no longer that harm we can’t legally hold that person against their will,” Marrocco said.

Marrocco said she believes the solution isn’t one entity or the other.

“It isn’t that the answer is only the mental health professionals or only law enforcement but we need a hybrid of the two that provides for safety as well as the most clinically appropriate intervention.”

Rochester Regional also has a Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Center. The mental health professionals who work there go out into the community and assess people routinely based on calls of concern from family. Marrocco also said Rochester Regional is contacted by the Monroe County FIT team frequently to give them a heads up someone may be coming in.

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