MYRTLE BEACH S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Police Department is highlighting Mental Health Awareness Monday during May to bring attention to many of the services that are available.

The community initiative, which was started last year to help improve mental health and wellness in the community, is a partnership between the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health and the police department.

Health alliance partner Sachi Baird, a mental health professional, assists officers when they respond to mental health crises or situations.

“One of the ways we kind of go above and beyond and use our due diligence is I will go to the emergency room with that person and sit with them, trying to just keep them calm,” Baird said.

Baird also helps train new recruits on the mental illnesses they might come into contact with while on the job.

“I teach them about how to tell the difference between someone who is experiencing severe symptoms of mental illness compared to someone who may be potentially under the influence of say, like, a stimulant,” Baird said. “What those things are to look for so they can tell the difference.”

Myrtle Beach Police Master Cpl. Tom Vest said the partnership was established because officers interact with people suffering from mental health illnesses all the time.

Having a mental health professional who can connect with those individuals who need help is a huge deal for the department, he said.

“It reduces the amount of people who have to go to jail,” Vest said. “It gets people the treatment they need for long-term care.”

Baird is also available to anyone who is not in a crisis emergency.

“You just feel like, you would like to speak with somebody, just to get over a hard time or find out what resources are in the community, not only for yourself but for a loved one, you are more than welcome to give me a call, or you can walk into the police department and I will come out and speak with you,” Baird said.

Anyone with questions or concerns about mental health or who just needs to talk can call Baird at 843 918-1541.