Free Mental Health Services For First Responders
First responders often experience stigma surrounding mental health issues. Their culture encourages them to remain silent and handle mental health issues on their own. This can negatively impact their job performance, family life, and physical health. However, even one trusted person speaking up can change people’s perceptions. That’s why it’s important for mental health professionals to provide a safe place for first responders to discuss mental health problems.
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health
The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) operates a mobile emergency response system that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These mobile teams are staffed with DMH clinicians and provide crisis intervention and information. The team also provides referrals to local crisis centers.
These services are provided for people who are a first responder or a frontline worker. The team provides services that address emotional distress, mental health assessments, and crisis intervention. They also provide grief support and help individuals navigate mental health services. These services are offered in different settings and include mental health services, peer support groups, and crisis intervention.
The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health also offers a 24-hour Friendship Line that makes outreach calls to frail older adults. These services are confidential and are available in several languages. Those suffering from bipolar disorder and other mental disorders can call the hotline to get support or safety planning. The hotline can also refer individuals to local domestic violence shelters. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health also provides support groups, counseling, and trauma-specialized care.
In addition to peer support, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health offers free suicide prevention resources. The NAMI Helpline, for example, connects callers with trained staff who provide emotional support. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available for those who need it.
Denver’s support team assistance response program
A new program in Denver offers free mental health services for first responders, including police officers. The STAR program is designed to deploy mental health clinicians to low-severity calls, such as 911 calls from individuals experiencing mental health issues. In the first six months of the program, it responded to 748 calls. During those times, the program helped people who were suicidal or using drugs and helped them connect with resources.
STAR is modeled on the Eugene police department’s CAHOOTS program. It consists of two licensed clinicians who work together in a mobile crisis intervention van. These clinicians work to deescalate a situation and eliminate the risk of arrest.
The STAR program started out with a single van and a two-person team. Now, it is expanding to six vans and more than a dozen workers. It aims to respond to more than 10,000 calls annually. The city council recently approved a $1.4 million contract with the Mental Health Center of Denver to expand the program and increase its reach.
The STAR program is based on the successful Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program in Eugene, Oregon. Founded in 1989 by the White Bird Clinic, CAHOOTS is a program that responds to mental health crises in a community. During the last year, the program answered more than one-seven percent of Eugene Police Department calls.v