People in mental health crises need help, not handcuffs

Our country needs a compassionate and evidence-based response to mental health crises. Establishing 9-8-8 as a nationwide hotline for helping people having mental health crises and preventing suicide, something the Federal Communications Commission is moving forward with, would give people a dedicated, easy-to-remember number to get help. We also need a range of culturally competent crisis services for people in need, including mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization programs. And anyone who provides care for people with severe mental health symptoms, including law enforcement officials, should be offered training in effective de-escalation and engagement strategies.

In the U.S. today, individuals with the most severe symptoms of mental illness typically can’t get inpatient care unless they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. That makes no sense. It’s like a hospital telling someone experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of a heart attack to come back later when your heart stops. That doesn’t happen: the symptoms are seen as serious signs and treated to prevent them from recurring and becoming worse.

Stat News