New Research Suggests 911 Call Centers Lack Resources to Handle Behavioral Health Crises

  • Source: The PEW Charitable Trusts
  • Published: 10/27/2021 12:00 AM

Every year, millions of 911 calls involve a person experiencing an emergency related to a mental health or substance use disorder—situations often referred to as behavioral health crises. How these calls are handled can determine whether the incident ends safely, the person in crisis is arrested, or the person is connected to appropriate care. The call-takers and dispatchers answering these emergency calls make critical assessments of the health and safety of those involved in each call, decide whether help is needed, and, if it is, determine whether it should be led by law enforcement officers, emergency medical services, or more specialized field responses (if available). The important role 911 plays in behavioral health emergencies has drawn increased national attention in recent years, with new ideas emerging on how call centers and emergency responses can be more effective.


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