Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

When Mental-Health Experts, Not Police, Are the First Responders

EUGENE, Ore.—They are the kind of calls that roll into police departments with growing regularity: a man in mental crisis; a woman hanging out near a dumpster at an upscale apartment complex; a homeless woman in distress.

In most American cities, it is police officers who respond to such calls, an approach law-enforcement experts say increases the risk of a violent encounter because they aren’t always adequately trained to deal with the mentally ill. At least one in every four people killed by police has a serious mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit based in Arlington, Va.

But in Eugene, Oregon’s third-largest city, when police receive such calls, they aren’t usually the ones who respond. Here, the first responders are typically pairs of hoodie-wearing crisis workers and medics driving white vans stocked with medical supplies, blankets and water.


Nice idea, good for Eugene, Oregon. I couldn’t read the article without paying to be a member of the Wall Street Journal, but thanks for telling us about this.

@oldladyblue Sorry about that. I was able to access the full article when I posted the link but now can’t like you.Unfortunately so many of such sites are going behind a pay wall . Profit comes before giving people access to the news and allowing them to be informed.

Yes, I agree that it is unfortunate about the pay wall. Great idea about the first responders though, but if people have to pay to read about it, the news won’t spread really well…

This is a great example of effective, compassionate responses to those who are in crises and hopefully will become the standard.

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Yes, hopefully compassionate responses will become the standard. In my town, almost all of the city police have done the NAMI first-responder course. That has benefited me and my daughter on the police responses to my home, and even when they’ve found her out in the city in an episode. Compassionate. I’m thankful.