Mental health concerns? 911 isn’t always the best and only option

(PHOTO: CBS Austin)

The Austin Police Department responds to thousands of mental health calls each year. In 2017, they responded to 10,382 mental health calls.

As of May 4, 2018 they had responded to 3,398 calls with a mental health component—which includes emotionally disturbed persons, suicide attempts or emergency detentions. However, sometimes police aren't who you should call during a mental health crisis.

Integral Care's Mobile Crisis Outreach team is available 24/7. The group has a proven record of keeping people out of jails and emergency rooms - instead getting them the lasting help they need. When someone's experiencing a mental health crisis your first thought may be to call 911, but if no one is in immediate danger consider calling Integral Care’s crisis line first.

“There's a lot of misinformation and I think fear in regards to mental health,” said Laura Wilson-Slocum, crisis services and justice initiatives practice administrator at Integral Care.

Laura Wilson-Slocum says licensed and qualified mental health professionals are always standing by to help.

“Someone can certainly call about a loved one that they live with, a friend that they have or someone that they go to school with. People don't need to have a bunch of information or all of the answers to call the crisis help line,” Wilson-Slocum says.

The Mobile Crisis Outreach Team is able to hit the streets in minutes -- reaching that person in crisis wherever they are.

“Most people really want to help and they really care about the community's mental health and their health in general, but they don't know what to do and they don't want to offend someone or embarrass someone,” Wilson-Slocum explains.

The Mobile Crisis Outreach Team helped more than 4,400 people in Travis County last year. When police called them to a scene, 98 percent of the time they were able to help stop someone from winding up in jail. When EMS called them to the scene, 75 percent of the time they were able to keep the individual out of an emergency room.

“Most people individuals experiencing a mental health crisis do not require law enforcement intervention or paramedic intervention or any activation of 911,” Wilson-Slocum says.

If you, someone you know or even a stranger you witness on the street may be having a mental health crisis, reach Integral Care’s 24/7 hotline at 512-472-HELP.

When the Mobile Crisis Outreach Ream is activated they don't just check on someone once and move on. The group continues checking in on the individual in crisis by offering support, creating a treatment plan and providing them with resources for up to 90 days.

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