A recent commentary shed light on how cities are moving away from having police respond to mental health crises in favor of trained community responders (“When a person is in crisis, who should take the call? Cities turn to community responders before police,” July 15). This is an important national trend that recognizes that we ask police to do too much. Armed officers are often not the right people to deal with people who make a call for help.
Locally, it’s important to note that Baltimore has been a leader in developing new ways to help people in crisis. A key resource is the Here2Help line (410-433-5175), which is staffed around the clock by mental health professionals who can provide confidential help to people in distress, in need of resources or just in need of an empathetic listener.
In some dire cases, the Here2Help staff will dispatch a mobile crisis response team which includes a counselor well-trained to support people in need but does not include a police officer. The Here2Help line is a vital community resource to help people get support from mental health professionals when they need it. This reduces the reliance on law enforcement while freeing up their time to focus on crime.
Adrienne Breidenstine, Baltimore
The writer is vice president for policy and communications at Behavioral Health System Baltimore.
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