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Health, Local, Public Safety

Responding with HART: Albemarle County team answers call for mental-health distress

Crystal Graham
mental health depiction
(© Zerbor – Generated with AI – stock.adobe.com)

Albemarle County’s Human Services Alternative Response Team responded Tuesday to an individual in distress in the 700 block of Belvedere Boulevard.

HART responded to a wooded area for a report of trespassing at 11 a.m.

Team members attempted to speak with the individual who showed a need for mental health services.

An emergency custody order, or ECO, was obtained based on the behavior of the individual.

Additional units from the Albemarle County Police Department and Albemarle County Fire Rescue responded to assist in taking the individual to be evaluated for mental health services.

The incident came to a close at 4:30 pm.

This is being considered an isolated incident with no further threat to the public.

About HART

HART was established in July 2023. The purpose of HART is to respond and follow up on emergency calls that are mental health and/or substance use related through a collaborative, trauma-informed and human-centered approach.

HART includes a representative from the Albemarle County Police Department, Albemarle County Fire Rescue and the Department of Social Services.

HART goals include:

  • De-escalate and support residents who are in crisis, in place, reducing the need for force through alternative methods
  • Utilize, when necessary, crisis stabilization services, diverting away from the emergency department or jail
  • Connect to community and mainstream resources through direct advocacy and referral
  • Support and contribute to education regarding alternative response, both internally within departments and throughout the community

This response model offers an opportunity for law enforcement, behavioral health providers and emergency services personnel to work together to respond, provide crisis support and provide follow-up navigation support.


If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org
For local mental health resources, visit AFP’s Project Mental Health page.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.