ALTON - A newly founded Alton-based nonprofit organization, Sacred Spaces of CARE, is joining efforts alongside the Alton Police Department to address mental health and combat crises. Sacred Spaces of CARE will partner with the department to engage in collaborative, trauma-informed practices to educate, further equip, appropriately support, and safely respond to crises through the creation of the RISE (Restorative Intervention Support Efforts) Program.

The initiative aims to provide training and further techniques for law enforcement and all community stakeholders to intentionally support individuals in crisis in an effort to divert from the criminal justice system, reduce barriers to care, and navigate toward appropriate services.

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“The mental health and wellness of our community is most effectively addressed through collaboration,” according to Megan Tyler, Executive Director of Sacred Spaces of CARE. “There are multiple pathways to recovery and various methods for seeking support, but each person has unique needs and can benefit from a tailored approach. Taking the first step and learning how to navigate resources can be challenging and we are here to walk alongside each person as they seek support for themselves or their loved ones. Sacred Spaces of CARE is about connection, and our partnership with the Alton Police Department is one of the many ways we can work together to educate, support, and help our community thrive.”

Sacred Spaces of CARE is pleased to announce that the organization has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in the amount of $91,757, along with a $357,635 one-year renewal, totaling almost $450,000, to focus on suicide prevention, mental health, and wellness, specifically in partnership with the first responder community of Alton. “As a community, we must shift our mindset and understand that we all have experienced trauma and are affected by it, whether recognized or not.

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There are, of course, varying degrees and while some of us may not Jarrett Ford Megan Tyler Chief of Police Executive Director Alton Police Department Sacred Spaces of CARE (618) 463-3505 x635 (618) 795-2179 ford@altonpolice.com mytyler@sacredspacesofcare.org have experienced an extreme trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect or acts of violence, we have likely all been touched by the death of a loved one, disease, or hardship of some nature”, says Tyler. “First responders encounter extreme forms of trauma on a daily basis and chronically witnessing those events leaves an indelible mark on an individual. Processing trauma is hard work, but is necessary. Our goal is to support law enforcement in their own mental health journey while also assisting them to better support those in our community experiencing crises.”

Addressing mental health and better equipping officers to respond to crises is not a new concept for the Alton Police Department. The department has been operating a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) for sixteen years. Through Crisis Intervention Training, officers learn to utilize strategies that are proven to be effective when working with an audience whose trauma history may be unknown. More than six years ago, the Alton Police Department also initiated a Community Crisis Work Group to facilitate efforts that address community mental health. This group, consisting of individuals from several partner agencies including city/county officials, local health care leadership, behavioral health agencies, Alton Fire Department leadership, and EMS agencies, examine systems to identify community needs and discuss possible courses of action. In addition, the Healthy Minds Program was established within the Alton Police Department, which encourages and facilitates mental health support for all employees and promotes wellness.

“I’m excited to partner with Megan Tyler and Sacred Spaces of CARE. The availability of immediate on-scene behavioral health assistance along with wraparound support for individuals experiencing crisis, is a critical component in the efforts to address the mental health needs of our community. This partnership also furthers ongoing efforts of promoting and supporting employee wellness, which has long been a priority of mine and others within the police department”, says Chief Jarrett Ford. “I am pleased and excited to see the partnership of the Alton Police Department and Sacred Spaces of CARE, as they collaborate on addressing the multifaceted needs in our community. Whether it comes to helping individuals struggling with their mental health, those battling addiction, or those experiencing being unhoused, this collaboration between the department and Sacred Spaces of CARE, is much needed. My administration is committed to helping those who are in crisis and have experienced trauma, and this support will enable individuals to get the help they need as they walk their path to restoration”, says Alton Mayor David Goins. Jarrett Ford Megan Tyler Chief of Police Executive Director Alton Police Department Sacred Spaces of CARE (618) 463-3505 x635 (618) 795-2179 ford@altonpolice.com mytyler@sacredspacesofcare.org To learn more about Sacred Spaces of CARE, visit their website at www.sacredspacesofcare.org.

The organization is hosting its first public event, Trauma & Mental Health Awareness Training, designed for anyone who would like to better understand the roots of trauma, examine how mental health impacts our daily lives, and discover how we can better care for ourselves and others. The event will be held on Thursday, July 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Community Christian Church, 2345 Union School Rd., Alton, IL 62002. The training is free and all are welcome to attend. If you would like assistance with your own mental health or would like to request assistance for a loved one, please contact Sacred Spaces of CARE at 618-795-2179. The organization is also seeking individuals who would like to volunteer and support efforts of the organization through financial contributions to help defray expenses not able to be covered through grants. Sacred Spaces of CARE is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.

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