Chester County Sheriff’s Office comfort K-9 lends a paw at mental health and wellness event10/25/2022 01:00AM ● By Steven Hoffman
In a large room buzzing with conversations about mental health and wellness, one resource is silent. A grin is obvious, and a tail is wagging, however, as Marley—the Chester County Sheriff’s Office’s (CCSO) comfort K-9 and the nation’s first United States Police Canine Association-certified police therapy dog—demonstrates his skill in helping people reduce stress.
Marley and his partner Sgt. Janis Pickell from the CCSO were among the dozens of resource providers who greeted visitors to the West Chester Area School District’s Mental Health Share event on Oct. 11. At this festive event, agencies provided giveaways and information about a wide range of mental health challenges including addiction, anxiety and eating disorders, and wellness resources including successful practices from employee assistance, LGBTQIA+ and student organizations. Parents, law enforcement, mental health staff and administration from WCASD and neighboring districts took away tips, literature, new connections and—from K-9 Marley and Sgt. Pickell—a few smiles.
“As the CCSO protects all County facilities, including the Justice Center, we interact with children who testify or work through difficulties that involve mental health or trauma within the family. Part of ensuring a safe and orderly court is addressing needs—dealing with fear or distress—before they become problems that disrupt a courtroom,” said Chester County Sheriff Fredda Maddox. “CCSO’s staff plays a vital role in keeping the peace. K-9 Marley and Sgt. Pickell play a unique role in that service.”
According to Kate Coulter, supervisor of K-12 pupil services at WCASD, the motivation behind the event came from numerous calls from teachers, administration and parents asking about resources available to help students. “Right now, we’re seeing raised awareness of the importance of good mental health, an abundance of need in the community and many people willing to share their experiences. We set up this Share Fair to help familiarize the community with resources and to make knowledge easily accessible. We want everyone to know—we’re in this together.”
For additional options for mental health and wellness, Chester County provides a list of Mental Health Resources at chesco.org/mentalhealth.