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New partnership improves mental health assistance following 911 calls

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — Mental health specialists are now inside the 911 dispatch center in Phoenix as part of a new partnership.

The Crisis Response Network and the Phoenix Police Department have joined forces to increase community safety by improving access to mental health care.

The mental health specialist provides education, collaboration and real-time feedback to 911 dispatchers to divert mental health-related calls to the local crisis line.

Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis often call 911 when they don’t know who else to call.

As a result, police and firefighters are often the ones sent to situations that are outside the scope of their operations and expertise.

“What we’re trying to do is divert and allow the public safety resources – which are already stretched, to really focus on the public safety aspect and allow the clinicians that can provide this level of support to these individuals to really engage,” President and CEO of Crisis Response Network Justin Chase told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

To date the partnership has diverted an average of 389 calls per month, a 142% increase.

Those calls instead were handled by the Crisis Response Network, instead of police and fire. However, when necessary first responders will co-respond alongside the mental health professionals.

Multiple agencies across the state have implemented similar programs with the Crisis Response Network, however Phoenix’s is the furthest along. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has been vocal about changing the way mental health calls are treated with police and has been an advocate for this program.

If you or anyone you know is in crisis the crisis line is free, confidential, and open to anyone who needs help. You can speak directly with a specialist 24/7 365 days a year at 602-222-9444.

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