Andrea Brown

Andrea Brown

Political Science Alumna
at Indiana State University

During a mental health crisis, the first few minutes are crucial to possibly saving someone’s life. Indiana State University political science alumna Andrea Brown, ’05, understands this demand. Every day is different in her job as Director of Operations at Stepping Stone Therapy Center, a mental health crisis intervention organization based in Indianapolis.

Recognizing a demand for a 24/7 call center with therapists and mental health clinicians, the center formed the Clinician Led Community Response Team (CLCRT) program to bridge the gap in finding appropriate solutions for individuals facing mental health crises. The program addresses mental health situations that require immediate attention.

“We bring interventions right to you while minimizing the involvement of law enforcement [unless necessary], emergency departments, and hospitalization. We have clinicians and therapists who provide intense interventions to save lives,” says Brown, who visited Indiana State’s campus during the Fall 2023 semester to speak with criminal justice and criminology students about the CLCRT program and explain how the call center operates.

Andrea Brown, a Black woman with long light brown hair, stands in a classroom setting in front of a whiteboard. She wears black glasses, a black turtleneck sweater, and grey plaid dress pants. Other students are blurred, sitting in front of her.

As she explained during her presentation, Brown develops and implements strategies to enhance operational efficiency and ensure exceptional client care. Once someone calls 911, a dispatcher reviews the needs and deploys the Stepping Stone Therapy Center’s CLCRT team for a nonviolent health emergency. Clinicians and mental health experts arrive at the scene to provide immediate intervention.

There is a growing need for mental health support in Indiana. In Indianapolis’s Marion County, 66 percent of residents require mental health support and treatment, Brown says.

“Hoosiers are affected by mental health. Fifty-three percent of the calls we receive are from women, and 50 percent are African American. We respond to calls that require intervention to prevent potential harm,” she explains.

Brown recalled a time when her team responded to a call from a woman who wanted to jump from the edge of a building. The team of social workers, clinicians, and therapists spent four hours with the woman and helped connect her to verified resources for additional support and care.

“We call our patients ‘neighbors’ because they’re all a part of our community. We want to help prevent future incidents. Our CLCRT clinicians and therapists de-escalate situations in real time, and then they follow up with our neighbors to see how they’re doing. They look at the whole picture and remember that safety is always the first priority,” Brown explains.

Andrea Brown, a Black woman with long light brown hair, stands in a classroom setting in front of a whiteboard. She wears black glasses, a black turtleneck sweater, and grey plaid dress pants. A blue laptop is visible on a table in front of her.

Brown’s journey to her current role at the Stepping Stone Therapy Center was not exactly straightforward, but her passion for social work has remained constant ever since she graduated from Indiana State in 2005. In her political science classes, professors encouraged Brown to participate in service projects, including a clothing drive for homeless individuals. The Sycamore also volunteered to write class notes for a visually impaired student.

“My professors told me to tap into my potential. It feels good to help people,” Brown shares.

After seeing firsthand how positive change impacts individuals and communities, the Sycamore shifted her career goals from political science to social work. “Every job I’ve had since I graduated has been in social work. I’m passionate about helping people,” she remarks.

Andrea Brown, a Black woman with long light brown hair, stands in a classroom setting. She wears black glasses, a black turtleneck sweater, and grey plaid dress pants.

As she worked toward her Master of Social Work degree from Howard University, Brown learned about nonprofit leadership, particularly in family cases and child services. Before beginning her current position with the Stepping Stone Therapy Center, she worked as a family case manager and fatality specialist for the State of Indiana, and later as a Chief Executive Officer for Life Solutions Group, LLC, an independent advisory firm supporting individuals, families, and businesses on financial decisions.

“I’m passionate about mental health and impacting communities. Being a part of a community is all about thinking of others and helping your neighbor,” says Brown, who returned to Indianapolis to collaborate with stakeholders, partners, and policymakers in her home state. She wants to continue to provide support to people, particularly regarding mental health in Indiana, she says.

“People can feel like they’re in the dark. It’s important to hold space with these people and support them when they’re going through times of crisis,” Brown adds. “With our work [at Stepping Stone Therapy Center], when people need mental health support, they’re heard. They are always heard.”

There are numerous different ways to help someone, Brown says. With a commitment to finding immediate care and assistance for those in need of support, Brown can help her neighbors through any emotional journey. Because empathetic leadership begins with BLUE!