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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

SMPD Mental Health Unit highlights the importance of mental health

Mental+health+unit+%28left+to+right%29+Kelly+Castillio%2C+Grant+Sheridan+and+Joseph+Osborne+posing+for+a+photo+in+their+office+on+Jan.+11%2C+2024%2C+at+the+San+Marcos+police+station.
Marisa Nuñez
Mental health unit (left to right) Kelly Castillio, Grant Sheridan and Joseph Osborne posing for a photo in their office on Jan. 11, 2024, at the San Marcos police station.

The San Marcos Police Department’s (SMPD) Mental Health Unit (MHU) consists of a team of one corporal, two officers and a mental health clinician. Together, they work to respond to people who are in mental health crisis’ to get them the help they need.

The MHU thrives off its sole purpose which is to save lives. The SMPD is one of many police departments with the addition of an MHU. With the growing trend, the unit hopes the importance of mental health spreads to civilians to increase understanding and raise awareness.

According to its website, the MHU received 2,431 calls in 2022 for mental health investigations, suicidal persons, mental health follow ups, emergency detentions and therapy K-9 deployments. Grant Sheridan, an MHU officer, said the unit can receive five to six calls a day from San Marcos civilians and students.

“We do encounter a fair number of students,” Sheridan said.“Their stressors can be anything from finances to school to family problems, work problems or a combination of all those things. So for us to have this unit in our police department, it’s going to help our department better serve these individuals when they’re in crisis.”

Recent stats from the National Institute of Mental Health state one in every five Americans experiences mental health issues. Joseph Osborne, the MHU corporal, highlights the importance of reaching out whether the matter is personal, for a family member or a friend.

“I feel it’s very important that the stigma that’s associated with mental health be addressed, and that everyone understands…that there’s nothing wrong with needing help,” Osborne said. “We want people to feel comfortable to reach out and ask for help when they need it or for their loved one when they need it.”

Kelly Castillo, the crisis response care coordinator, said finding things that students can do daily that make them feel good can help with mental illness. Self-care examples Castillo shared are going for a walk, watching a favorite TV show, taking a bath, playing with pets and working out.

“Sometimes, people think [self-care] has to be a big grand thing like ‘I’m gonna take a week-long vacation to Florida,'” Castillo said. “It doesn’t have to be things like that…you got to take care of you first.”

The MHU strictly works to save lives and move people in the right direction. It strongly advises people to reach out for help regardless if they use its services or not.

“A reminder to all persons, all students or whoever, do not to be afraid to ask for help if you need it,” Osborne said. “There are people out there who are interested, who do care and who will help.”

For more information about the SMPD MHU, visit its website. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. For emergencies, call 911.

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