3 Replies to “Many big US cities now answer mental health crisis calls with civilian teams — not police”

  1. As we discussed this in class, the majority of police officers jobs include completing acts of service and mental health calls. Officers are not equipped with the correct training to assist with the mentally ill. Yet social workers like psychologists and therapist are not equipped with the correct training if things get too out of hand or violent. We have too many accidents of the mentally ill being killed or hurt by officers because they don’t know what to do. How can we find a medium where we can have both or one person that can assist with both issues?

    1. Hi Jordan. I agree with what you are saying, the police are sent to mental health calls but they are not properly trained to deal with them. There must be a way to keep those who are mentally ill from being injured or killed. Like Dr. Marier said in class though, how do we know who to send? Maybe a training program for 911 dispatches that specializes in mental health identification or a specialized task force that has police officers who are also psychologists. This is something that will take time and money to accomplish but I think that it is possible.

    2. Hi Jordan! While I agree with what you’re saying, I also wanted to point out that this article, while detailing some of the great things accomplished by these teams, has also talked a lot about the criticisms of them, specifically B-Heard. Sending out civilians as mental health advisors to respond to mental health-related 911 calls is a well-intentioned but challenging endeavor. Programs like B-Heard, aimed at diverting these calls away from law enforcement, have faced several obstacles. One major issue is the unpredictability of these situations, as Professor Marier and Sarah have both noted. Mental health crises can escalate rapidly, posing risks to both responders and those in distress, and the negative impacts of such programs on the public have been noted. There have been instances where responders, lacking the training and resources of professionals, have struggled to effectively manage crisis situations, leading to harm or trauma for individuals in need. An instance stated in the article claims that one civilian felt that the situation was even escalated due to the B-Heard responders. This highlights the importance of comprehensive training and support for civilian mental health advisors to ensure their effectiveness and the safety of all involved parties. It also poses a important question: If we want mental health responders, how are we going to be able to insure that they will not turn out just as bad, if not worse, than police officers responding to these calls?

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