Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)
The current behavioral health crisis has provoked a renewed interest in mental health strategies focused on innovating responses to mental health crisis calls. Many of these policies and funding initiatives have emerged in the context of police reform with the explicit goal of diversion from law enforcement and criminal justice contact.
Still, there is a segment of high acuity behaviors including violence, weapon-related actions, and significant threat to self or public safety that require police involvement. Moreover, individuals with recent histories of these types of high severity mental health episodes are often ineligible for existing crisis programs due to potential increased safety risks for staff. This presently leaves 911 (i.e., law enforcement) as the only response option for high-risk mental health encounters. especially among individuals with a severe mental illness.
The NYPD Co-Response Program, now in its 6th year of operations, is uniquely situated to provide crisis response services to individuals with both behavioral health conditions and histories of violence (weapons, imminent harm, or criminality). Currently, the program is comprised of 20 police officers and 10 DOHMH behavioral health professionals who provide pre- and post-crisis services to clients who were referred to the program.
The Behavioral Health Division Co-Response Program is requesting funding to expand its current crisis response strategy to include a rapid, real-time crisis response for high acuity, high risk mental health service calls. The provision of rapid response teams will help decrease the current service gap for individuals who are not eligible for other mobile crisis programs. Implementation of the Rapid Response Teams will require allocation of 7 licensed behavioral health professionals with prior crisis response experience - deploying to NYC areas with the highest rate of mental health calls.
The Rapid Response Teams aim to improve real-time clinical and safety intervention capability and client-centered outcomes in high-risk mental health crisis incidents. These strategies include de-escalation, leveraging real-time access to relevant mental health information, situational and clinical risk assessment, and immediate, right-fit service coordination and connection. The proposed targets are a minimum of 300 community members experiencing a mental health crisis where police involvement is deemed necessary and appropriate.
The Rapid Response Program aims to develop client-focused, needs-based priority partnerships with psychiatric care institutions and social service/mental health treatment providers. Anticipated outcomes include successful pilot implementation of a rapid, real-time mental health crisis response service for individuals that meet RRT criteria, decreased criminal justice and hospital encounters among RRT-engaged individuals, and identification of benchmarks for an acuity-based, multifunctional (pre-, post-, in-crisis) law enforcement mental health crisis response system.