Durham launches new program to help people experiencing behavioral, mental health issues

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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Durham is the first city in North Carolina to dispatch unarmed mental health professionals to help others.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new focus on crisis response in Durham.

The city is becoming the first in the state to launch an 'unarmed mental health' division.

The new program starts on Tuesday.

The goal is to match 911 responses to the needs of people experiencing behavioral and mental health issues.

Durham is the first city in North Carolina to dispatch unarmed mental health professionals.

The city's Community Safety Department is launching three new crisis response pilot programs.

On Tuesday, mental health clinicians will be embedded in the Durham Emergency Communications Center.

This crisis call division is designed to quickly connect residents to a mental health professional.

The second program, community response teams, rolls out Wednesday.

Unarmed, three-person teams will be dispatched as first responders when 911 calls are received about non-violent mental health episodes or quality-of-life concerns.

Then on Thursday, the city will roll out the Care Navigation Program.

This provides in-person and phone-based follow-ups from clinicians and peer support 48 hours after a person meets with one of the pilot program responders.

Starting later in the year a co-response pilot will launch that pairs clinicians with police officers to respond to behavioral health 911 calls that pose a greater potential safety risk.