Taking Mental Health Crises Out of Police Hands

Until Oakland joins the list of cities sending counselors and social workers on emergency calls concerning mental health crises, a grassroots program called Mental Health First is diverting a small number of emergencies from police involvement to a community-based response. Hundreds of volunteers, many with their own experiences with mental illness and crises, answer dozens of calls per month in which they de-escalate, counsel, and direct people to needed services – all without the threat that a misunderstood person could be harmed by police untrained in correctly handling such crises.

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