Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know

Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-02-09
Unit 1Slide Deck: Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs
Unit 2Transcript: Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs
Unit 3Workbook: Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs
Unit 4Recording: Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs

Emergencies are typically grouped based on who can resolve them: fire, medic, or police. It’s easy to determine which ones fall under fire and medic. For all the gray areas – for some reason, it falls under law enforcement. More and more initiatives are being done around the US to recognize the need for mental health emergency response. This session will feature three of the country’s most effective models and representatives sharing each jurisdiction’s strategy, challenges, and outcomes in their respective mental health diversion programs.

This session is led by John Snook, Director of Government Relations and Strategic Initiatives for the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, and the panel includes:

  • Shane Nolte, Fairhope (Alabama) Police Department Public Information Officer who specializes in incidents involving mental health issues
  • Krista Thronson, Court Liaison and Assisted Outpatient Supervisor for Altapointe Health in Fairhope, Alabama
  • J. Wagner, Senior Fellow for Justice System Policy at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
  • Margie Balfour, Psychiatrist, national leader in behavioral health crisis service, Chief of Quality and Clinical Innovation at Connections Health Solutions, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona

The discussion revolved around:

  • The current state of the mental health response system in the US and the solution to the challenges through comprehensive systems and the full continuum of crisis car.
  • A glimpse into Fairhope, Alabama’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Program.
    • The conditions within the city of Fairhope and raising the need for a comprehensive program to address mental health emergencies with stakeholders.
    • The constant collaboration required across law enforcement, the courts, and mental health resources to make the AOT run smoothly.
    • The outcomes of implementing the AOT in terms of savings on resources required and reducing the people that are coming in and out of hospitals and jails due to mental health causes.
    • The of the steps they took and other prerequisites that made the AOT program happen.
  • Dallas’ Multi-Disciplinary Response Team (MRDT) Model
    • Recognizing the burden on law enforcement of accommodating mental health emergencies that they are ill-equipped to assist and their limited options when responding.
    • Creating the MDRT with the goal of reducing the use of law enforcement services for mental health crisis calls while enhancing their capabilities to be better suited to respond to these when there is no other option.
    • The objectives of the MDRT that looks at providing comprehensive services, ending the crisis cycle, providing prevention and intervention, and recalibrating LE involvement in mental health emergencies.
    • The structure of the response team, the roles and responsibilities of each member, and the mission-critical components of the program.
    • The outcomes of the MRDT a year upon implementation with comparisons on a neighboring community as a control group.
  • The Arizona Model’s systemic approach to mental health diversion.
    • A brief discussion on the lack of system and standard on mental health crisis response, and SAMHSA’s recommendations on the Continuum of Services.
    • The three critical ingredients for a functional system of accountability, collaboration, and data to serve as the basis for measuring outcomes.
    • A primer on Arizona’s Crisis System Structure that provides centralized planning, accountability, and congruence of the clinical and financial goals and benefits.
    • Arizona’s Crisis Continuum and No Wrong Door Culture: The different services working together towards effective mental health crisis management and cost-savings for the stakeholders.
    • A glimpse into their Crisis Response Center – the operations, policies, procedures, and approach to mental health crisis response.
    • Initiatives in the law enforcement front to fully integrate into the system and collaborations with mental health providers to better serve the community’s mental health-related concerns.
    • Data providing insights on how this systemic approach benefited the community.
  • Tips on getting started on the mental health diversion program initiative and bringing a mental health clinician into the call centers.
  • Similarities and differences between the jurisdictions’ resources.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • Definition of terms.
  • The implementation of 988 and its potential impact on their programs.
  • Looping in other non-core service providers into the program’s system.


Resources and Handouts
Additional Resources
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After the Webinar: Successful Mental Health Diversion Programs. Q&A with the Presenters
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