New York City Mental Health Emergency Response Pilot had a positive impact: data


  • A program has been launched in New York to send mental health professionals to answer calls for mental health issues.
  • Early evidence suggests that these non-police teams were more successful in providing medical care to patients.
  • The data also show that these behavioral health teams were less likely to seek hospital treatment.
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A pilot program in New York that sends social workers instead of police officers to answer mental health calls is showing early signs of success, according to data from the city.

IN B-HEARD program – it stands for Mental Health Emergency Response Unit – launched in the Harlem area last month and dispatched teams of three unarmed mental health professionals to answer more than 100 emergency calls.

Between June 6 and July 7, 911 dispatchers diverted about 25% of all mental health calls to B-HEARD teams. according to the city… When the teams arrived at the scene, about 95% of the people in the crisis received medical attention. When there is a traditional reaction from the police and ambulance workers, about 82% of people in a crisis situation accept help.

The data show that behavioral health teams are also more selective about the type of care offered to patients.

According to the data, police and paramedics typically send 82% of patients to hospital for treatment when answering mental health calls. Only about half of the patients were admitted to the hospital by teams of social workers, and all of them received follow-up care. The teams also reportedly treated about 25% of patients at the scene and took another 20% to community centers.


Programs like B-HEARD have become has become increasingly popular in US cities in the past few years.

These programs, many of which are modeled on CAHOOTS (Crisis Relief, Street Relief), mobile emergency response unit in Eugene, Oregon – intend to better serve people in crisis by referring professionals trained in mental health care.

These programs also aim to reduce the number of violent clashes between police and people in crisis while reducing the burden on police resources. BUT 2015 study by the Medical and Legal Center found that people with untreated mental illness were 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than the rest of the population.

The New York City Pilot Program allowed officers to be referred to emergency mental health services in the event of threats of violence or the use of weapons. B-HEARD teams reportedly requested police assistance only seven times in the first month of the program, while NYPD requested assistance from mental health groups 14 times.

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