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Flint churches will provide mental health services in summer pilot program

"People trust the church," says Dexter Clarke (at podium), Genesee Health Service
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
"People trust the church," says Dexter Clarke (at podium), Genesee Health Service

A group of Flint pastors is teaming up with the medical community to bring mental health services to local churches as a way to combat rising gun violence.

Bishop Chris Martin hopes this may help people who would not otherwise trust mental health professionals.

“This program will be able to give people the access that they need to crisis hotlines to be able to just talk to someone about issues they may be having,” says Martin. “And considerably lower the temperature of violence and the problems we are having in our city.”

Medical professionals have had problems in the past convincing those at-risk to trust them.

“We realize that people trust the church,” says Dexter Clarke, with the Genesee Health System.

The summer pilot program is being funded by money from the Genesee County mental health millage. Voters approved the 10-year tax millage last year.

It's expected to raise more than $9 million a year to support mental health services.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.