Supporting community response approaches to behavioral health crises.
Diverting to Care
In most communities when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis or a drug overdose, law enforcement is the default first responders. This can make a bad situation worse, with people being sent to jail or the emergency room rather than getting the help they need.
The police themselves have said that we ask them to do too much. They want to focus their efforts on solving crimes, and other service providers should handle emergency calls about addiction, mental illness, and homelessness.
Why it matters:
We all want to live in safe communities where we look out for one another. But what we‘re doing isn’t working. Instead of solving problems caused by a lack of services and opportunities in many communities, we’re locking people up. We need a common-sense approach, using proven alternatives to prison, such as mental health and drug treatment services, to ensure all Missourians have the support they need to live healthy lives and to improve the well-being of all our communities.
How we’re changing things:
Diverting to Care focuses on how and by whom behavioral health emergencies are handled because people with mental health or substance use disorders are best cared for in their communities — not in jails or prisons or through law enforcement and criminal justice interventions.
As part of this initiative, we’re supporting four organizations around the state to uncover solutions and test ideas. Additional community-led diversion projects will be solicited in early 2023. Please contact Katie Kaufmann for more information.
We’re also supporting an effort led by Missouri Behavioral Health Council in partnership with Missouri Office of State Court Administrators to work with health care providers, law enforcement, judicial leaders, and community members to assess available resources and identify gaps across every county in the state. Statewide mapping will inform strategies to strengthen needed services in communities to prevent people with mental and substance use disorders from coming into contact with the criminal justice system.