Sunday, November 22, 2009

Police, EMTs overwhelmed by more and more people with mental illnesses needing help

From The AP:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Police and emergency responders around the nation have long struggled to deal with people who have mental illness. Now some say the situation is getting worse.

A poor economy and cuts to institutional programs threaten to overwhelm personnel trained to deal with crime and vehicle accidents, not mental crises.

In Burlington, Vt., the police department recently hired a mental health specialist to handle some of these calls, in hopes of reducing the number of people with mental illness who are shuttled needlessly into the justice system.

Around the country, as many as 1,300 departments have set up crisis intervention teams, who get specialized mental health training and work with the community on the responses.