Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

911 operators not prepared to handle mental health crisis calls: Study

911 operators not prepared to handle mental health crisis calls: Study

Information about 911 operators not prepared to handle mental health crisis calls: Study

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  • A growing number of cities are testing not sending police to 911 calls about mental health.
  • Many 911 call centers in a new survey said they don’t have the training to handle mental health calls.
  • Experts said the data highlights the reality millions of Americans face when they call 911 in crisis.

Cities around the country have been testing programs in recent years to send mental health professionals instead of police to some emergency calls. But a survey of 911 call centers suggests the people answering the phone may not have the resources to handle those crises. 

A survey published Tuesday by Pew Charitable Trusts of more than three dozen emergency call centers found few have staff trained to handle behavioral health crises. Most centers also did not have access to mental health professionals who can help with the calls or first responders in the field trained to handle such crises. 

“For a lot of people, the first contact they have when they’re in crisis is this person at that 911 call center,” said Tiffany Russell, Pew Charitable Trusts’ project director for mental health and justice partnerships.

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