Denver to expand mental health crisis response team

Posted at 10:20 AM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 19:55:19-04

DENVER – The City of Denver will add more mental and behavioral health professionals to its crisis response team to help people during interactions with police.

Six mental health professionals will respond with police when officers are called to handle situations involving people in crisis. 

The team's chief purpose is to reduce the number of people with mental health issues in the jail system, according to the city.

It also aims to lessen the cost of emergency services to those in crisis who may not be able to afford extensive care.

The program was first implemented as a pilot in April, with three co-responders on staff. In the first three months of the program, those workers went to 427 calls and helped get 408 people into treatment or stabilized.

The co-responders are part of the city’s Crisis Intervention and Response Unit, and the program is a partnership between Denver’s Office of Behavioral Health Strategies, the Denver Police Department and the Mental Health Center of Denver.

“The co-responder program is an important step in supporting those experiencing a mental health issue in the community,” Carl Clark, MD, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver, said in a statement.  “By having one of our licensed mental health professionals respond with law enforcement, we are able to provide earlier identification and intervention to those who are in a crisis situation and get them access to treatment and resources that can have a positive impact on their lives.”


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