Locals Recognized for Mental Health Response


Communities / Jul. 21, 2016 10:09am EDT

By Katie Jickling

Rachel Emerson of the Clara Martin Center and Sgt. Loretta Stalnaker were honored for their work addressing mental health issues. (Herald / Katie Jickling) Rachel Emerson of the Clara Martin Center and Sgt. Loretta Stalnaker were honored for their work addressing mental health issues. (Herald / Katie Jickling) Two Randolph workers have been selected for statewide recognition for their work in response to mental health crises.

Sergeant Loretta Stalnaker of the Randolph Police Department, and Rachel Emerson, of the Clara Martin Center were notified last week that they had been named winners of the statewide Frank Silfies Award, granted to those “who exemplify collaborative response to mental health crises.”

This year, the mental health component of the award was split between two workers.

Janet Potter, a Crisis Intervention Specialist from Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS), which is headquartered in Springfield, was also chosen for the award as a corecipient alongside Emerson.

Stalnaker and Emerson spent a good part of an interview in the Randolph Police Department exchanging compliments.

Collaborating with Stalnaker is “like working with a good friend,” Emerson said. “She’s so easy to work with.”

“I have them on speed dial,” Stalnaker said, of Emerson and Clara Martin Center.

Emerson and Stalnaker regularly respond together to mental health calls, which range from wellness checks to responses to individuals suffering self-harm and suicidal individuals. They trust each other, they said.

Team Two

Team Two was established three years ago as part of a collaboration between the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Public Safety. The organization provides training on dealing with mental health crises for law enforcement and mental health workers across Vermont.

Stalnaker and Emerson are also instructors with Team Two, conducting trainings for mental health workers and law enforcement to discuss scenarios and methodology for dealing with mental health calls.

“We’ve seen the impact in the community,” said Kristin Briggs, acute care coordinator at Clara Martin Center, who nominated both women. “I thought they’d be great, and I was proven right when they won.”

The award was created last year in memory of Frank Silfies, a former Emergency Services Director at HCRS and a member of the original

Team Two Steering Committee. It “honors Silfie’s commitment to working closely with police officers to find the safest, best outcome for people experiencing a mental health crisis,” according to a news release from Team Two.

Typically, one law enforcement officer and one mental health worker are selected. This year, Potter and Emerson were named as co-recipients.

Nominations are solicited from all the designated mental health agencies in Vermont as well as police agencies across the state.

An award ceremony will be held later this fall, according to Executive Director Kristin Chandler.

“We all do it because it we like people,” Emerson said, citing Clara Martin Center’s motto, “People helping people.”

“We just like it when it goes well,” she added.

Stalnaker grinned, and reached across the table and gave Emerson a high five.

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