Police and fire departments in Dallas, TX have teamed up with Parkland Hospital to rethink how they can respond to 911 calls resulting from mental health crises. One way to do this is to place a social worker in the dispatch center for triage calls while sending out a special team of mental health professionals to areas with the highest concentration of calls involving mental health.
They hope that social workers will have the resources to handle these cases without having to transfer patients to overcrowded emergency rooms and prisons. The Right Care program has shown a positive impact on the community, effectively reducing the number of psych patients by over 20%. According to Curtis Young, a director of social work, this program would give better care to those suffering from mental health issues. They are now planning to add first-responders to the team and provide in-depth training to police and firefighters.
Right Care Ensures Mental Health Calls Receive a Dispatch Team
Right Care will be relocating 6,000 people out of the criminal justice system, stuck with no health insurance and no access to care. The city of Dallas on average receives 1,500 calls about mental health every month. In the past, they would only dispatch five police officers to escort the patients to Dallas County Jail for mental health treatment. But now, they are trying to find alternative protocols, for instance, handing patients over to a special mental health team instead. This response team will consist of a police officer, a social worker, and a paramedic.
Social workers have the option to assist in department triage calls by deciding whether someone needs help with taking medication or is aggressive and a potential danger to others. Despite the problem of getting different agencies to work together, they all shared one goal, and that was to make the patient's health a priority. Although the grant money is running out in May, the North Texas Behavioral Health Association is determined to see it through in the upcoming year. The state will take care of funding by passing new legislation in favor of mental health initiatives.
If you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health sections of our blog. If you are pursuing a career as a social worker, please contact us to discuss job listings in your area.
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