Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pacifica conference highlights services for mental health emergencies

The Pacifica community recently hosted a conference to raise awareness about various mental health services available to county residents facing an emergency.

The event came on the heels of fatal officer-involved shootings in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay earlier this year, which Pacifica Mayor Mary Ann Nihart said made it clear that both police and members of the public were unaware of specific resources that might prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

In the first incident in March, relatives of 34-year-old Erroll Chang called 911 to report that the longtime Pacifica resident was having a paranoid episode related to his schizophrenia.

A six-hour standoff ensued, resulting in Chang’s death when a SWAT team entered his home and shot him after he allegedly attacked an officer with a knife.

In another incident in early June, the family of 18-year-old Half Moon Bay resident Yanira Serrano-Garcia called 911 to report that she was experiencing a psychiatric emergency. A sheriff’s deputy responding to the call shot and killed Serrano-Garcia after she allegedly came toward him brandishing a knife.

Nihart, who additionally works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and is president-elect of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, said her work in the mental health field made the recent tragedies especially personal for her.

She said she hopes to see the city and county improve their efforts to not only help people with mental illnesses and their families, but to also make them aware that services are available.


Posted by Steve Sinai

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The police are unaware of the resources available? Why? Is the mayor referring to the Pacifica police? I can understand how members of the public may be unaware of the available resources, but why are the police unaware? And if they are unaware, what is this city doing to inform them? This press release makes no mention of any law enforcement involvement in this conference. What does this stuff accomplish?