NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville is hard at work to be at the forefront of mental health care. The new Partners in Care program has mental health care clinicians working directly alongside police officers and is already seeing positive results.
On the day of the deadly Covenant School shooting, clinicians were on the front lines providing mental health care to the terrified students and staff.
Carrying her radio, earpiece, and vest, Haley Moore worked alongside the Metro Nashville Police Department.
“Personally, I love working alongside them. They are great, great people,” said Moore. “I grew up in law enforcement. My father’s been a police officer for over 40 years.”
However, Moore is not an officer; she’s a clinician with a new program in Nashville called Partners in Care, which started as a pilot program in 2021 and has grown from there.
When law enforcement responds to a call that has a mental health element such as a suicide threat or disorderly conduct, Moore is right there.
“I told one of the officers, I’m just another tool on your toolbelt. Pull me out, use me when you need me,” she said.
On March 27, law enforcement needed her, as well as the other mental health care workers, like Aisha Robinzine, who are trained to work in crisis situations.
“I did speak with an individual who lost someone. To be honest, in those moments, you are kinda left speechless. You’re just there for that individual to let them get it out. Let them scream, yell,” said Robinzine.
“We were there pretty quickly after. And they were singing Amazing Grace, and it was in that moment that I had to ground myself,” said Moore.
Program Manager Michael Randolph runs Partners in Care and is a licensed professional counselor with 14 years of experience in crisis care. Since he helped start the program in 2021, the mission has been to get people out of the criminal justice system and into mental healthcare.
He admitted that he did not envision a mass shooting the likes of Covenant.
“It’s not really why we designed the program, but we were able to help, because that program exists, in a terrible situation,” said Randolph. “How do we walk with these people through these dark moments, and give them hope and help.”
The clinicians helped the staff grieve and talked with the students as they made their way onto the buses and eventually back into their parents’ arms, providing support any way they could.
“Covenant was a hard day, and it was a day that I think will be with me for a really, really long time,” said Moore.
Partners in Care was started by a number of metro government agencies, including Mental Health Cooperative and Metro Police. The goal is to have a Partners in Care mental health unit in every precinct. Midtown is set to get its first next month.