US cities are beginning to rethink who should be responsible for responding to mental-health crises. The first week of November, the city of New York announced a pilot program to be launched next year. A team of mental health experts will respond to 911 calls related to mental and substance-related problems and drug and alcohol problems instead of armed police. According to a recent report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five New Yorkers has a mental illness. —
Instead of ensuring that people with mental illness get the help they need, health care providers are by default reactionary to the person in crisis. In New York City, we must do everything we can to reach out to people when an emergency strikes, "Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a written statement.
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The new pilot program, which will take effect in February, will instead include training city hospitals to train mental health experts on behavioral problems. This was preceded by a wave of worldwide protests calling for an end to racism and police brutality. More than half of all people shot by police have experienced some form of a mental health crisis, New York Police Chief Bill Bratton recently told Insider. There were riots over black people, many of whom had mental health problems at their deaths.
If there is a mental health emergency related to a gun, NYPD officers can work with behavioral health professionals, the city said. These could include mental illness, depression, substance abuse, suicide attempts, or even suicide attempts.
The pilot program aims to improve the treatment of situations that affect behavior and provide people with the treatment they need. Crisis intervention teams were also trained, the city said in its statement.
Expanding the role of emergency mental health services means that people with urgent behavioral health needs can quickly receive appropriate and practical help from trained health professionals, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said in a written statement.
The New York pilot program was inspired by a similar study in Eugene, Oregon, hailed as a successful model for addressing mental health crises. A behavioral medics team from the city's Crisis Help on the Streets program took over social services - making calls from there. When the behavioral health professionals arrived on the scene, they called the officers because they believed law enforcement could handle the emergency.
Similar models have been introduced in other cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. Kenney, who teaches a course for NYPD officers who want to advance their training, told insiders that most police officers know they're not good - suited to dealing with mental health problems or drug use. It's not about removing police from the area, it's also a question of what they are going to do instead.
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