Law enforcement has been unofficially managing community mental health issues despite not being the experts in such situations. The City of Austin identified this as an area for improvement and decided on strategies that will unburden law enforcement and address the mental health crisis its citizens have been experiencing.
Discussing the initiatives put into place are:
- Colleen McCollough, Program Manager at Integral Care
- Ken Murphy, Lieutenant and Emergency Communications Division Director with the Austin Police Department (APD)
- J. Wagner, Senior Vice President of Health and Public Safety at the Meadows Institute
Specifics covered in the webinar include:
- An overview of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and the assessment they did on the City of Austin to evaluate its mental health calls response.
- The six recommendations that resulted from the assessment that looks into:
- The creation of an entity to review the handling and outcomes of mental health calls for service.
- Developing mental health identification and management training for call takers and dispatch.
- Incorporating mental health crisis clinicians into the APD call center to triage calls and support officers responding to these crisis calls.
- Allocating funding for a Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT) and Telehealth function.
- Integrating crisis intervention follow-up into the homeless outreach team.
- Creating dedicated Spanish language resources to cater to the city’s Latinx communities.
- An overview of the city of Austin and the creation of its Crisis Call Diversion (CCD) program.
- Adding the fourth option to the call routing system and its benefit.
- Implementing the CCD, its focus, and its goal.
- The Crisis Center Clinicians (C3), the CCD team’s staffing, their availability, the services they provide, and their dynamics with 911 operators and dispatch.
- The 911 operator process particularly the key data they collect and health screening protocol.
- The specific calls and situations that are eligible and not eligible for transfer to the CCD.
- The prevalence of mental health calls, the common concerns and outcomes for Individuals with mental illness (IMI), and the critical role of the CCD in addressing the mental health crisis.
- Measuring the CCD program’s successes and areas for improvement based on data collected since its inception.
- The Travis County MCOT: Its model, goals, stakeholders and the training provided to them, and services.
- Differentiating between the Integral Care traditional and the expanded MCOT models.
- The APD/Integral Care Telehealth training and implementation, how it augments the mental health crisis response, and the different outcomes and services an individual may have or utilize under this program.
- A rundown of the strategies Integral Care puts into place when working with their partners to ensure an effective mental health crisis response program.
- Lessons learned to ensure success in terms of the technology used, training provided, and recruitment for the important positions within the program.
- The value of taking into account a text option for these services to cater to the younger generation who prefer texting as opposed to calling a hotline.
- The importance of data to truly understand the depth of an agency/jurisdiction’s concerns to come up with a solution that will address these.
Questions from the webinar audience are about:
- Integrating with 988 and transferring calls between emergency and non-emergency hotlines.
- Accuracy in the data collection for mental health calls.
- The percentage of total call volume that goes to the CCD.
- Determining primary presenting concerns.
- Recruitment and staffing for mental health providers.
- How clinicians are deployed into the field.
- Decreasing the likelihood of people being put on hold and calls disconnecting.
Webinars with this Speaker
- June 23: Creating a Continuum Ecosystem of Crisis Response
- Aug 2: The Fourth Option: Mental Health Services (this webinar)
Resources and Handouts
- “That mental health is finally being addressed in new ways to better ensure Officer, Caller in MH Crisis/Patient/ and Clinician safety. Love the program currently being used in Austin, TX to handle the MH crisis and get appropriate services for the person in need more effectively’/quickly. I truly hope this program will quickly become a national model. Collaboration and the use of MH Clinicians working 911 Centers will definitely have a positive impact on all working in public safety and human services.” — Cheryl
- “That this can be done and all communications centers should be doing this.” — Jeryl
- “Integrating Mental Health intervention into Policing – Wonderful!” — Lori
- “This was fantastic I’ve been wanting more webinars geared towards dispatchers specifically plus the mental health aspect & this was exactly what I would love for our Dept to do. “– Suzanne
- “Learning that you have clinicians working within the dispatch center. This sounds like the next steps my agency might take to further develop our relationship with our mental health provider.” — Phillip
- “Leave it to Texas to think of something awesome line this. I WILL BE printing this out and looking into addressing this with my administration.” — Shannon
- “The data on the reason for the mental health crisis calls was very interesting – mostly for psychosis. Fascinating!” — Vince
- “A GREAT success story, Austin, TX.! A great catapult for agencies considering the 4th option. With mental health calls continuing to increase, we need the appropriate community resources to respond, for the right outcome! I will propose this in my area, at the county level. Thank you!” — Roseann