Friday, August 27, 2021

People Experiencing Mental Crisis Less Likely to Face Arrest When Police Pair With MH Professionals

Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis were less likely to be arrested following a 911 call if a police officer and mental health professional responded to the call together compared with if the police responded alone, according to a report published Thursday in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

Katie Bailey, M.P.A., and Bradley Ray, Ph.D., of Wayne State University in Michigan and colleagues analyzed data collected as part of a co-response team (CRT) pilot in an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department from August 1 through December 31, 2017. The team—involving a police officer trained in crisis intervention, a master’s-level mental health professional, and a local EMS paramedic—responded when 911 calls involved a person with suspected mental health or substance use issues, including suicidal ideation; indicated a need for an officer trained in crisis intervention; and/or involved a person who frequently used emergency services.

The researchers compared the outcomes of people who received CRT responses to 911 calls with people who received treatment-as-usual responses to 911 calls (calls received by separate Indianapolis police districts). The authors examined two immediate outcomes following the CRT or treatment-as-usual response: jail booking (within 24 hours of the 911 call) and emergency detention (involuntary admittance to a hospital). They also compared the groups’ subsequent EMS contacts and jail bookings six months and 12 months after the 911 call.

Individuals in the CRT group were 52% less likely than those in the treatment-as-usual group to be booked into jail within 24 hours of the call. However, those in the CRT group were 71% to 85% more likely to have had subsequent encounters with EMS at 6- and 12-month follow-up.

“[T]he mechanism through which Indianapolis’s CRT response resulted in higher rates of subsequent EMS contact … is difficult to identify,” the researchers wrote. “Perhaps EMS involvement in the Indianapolis CRT resulted in individuals’ perceiving EMS as an effective means of managing a crisis and thus increased utilization of subsequent services.”

Both groups had a similar likelihood of emergency detention at the time of the call and a similar likelihood of being booked into jail at six and 12 months.

“Our findings suggest CRTs may reduce short-term incarceration risk but may not have a positive impact on long-term outcomes,” the researchers added. “Future research should consider the extent to which CRT and follow-up services improve engagement with stabilizing treatment services, which may reduce the likelihood of future crises.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Psychiatrists Can Help Train Police in Crisis Response.”

(Image: iStock/Chalabala)


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