Mental health advocates propose change to responding to mental health emergencies and crisis situations

March 17, 2021

By: Kasia Kerridge

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – Colorado mental health advocates are proposing a change to responding to mental health emergencies or crisis situations.

Mental Health Colorado introduced the “Secure Transportation Bill” to improve mental health crisis response and reduce the burden on law enforcement.

“When you call 911 for a heart attack or a stroke, the chances are is that you’re going to get EMT response and paramedics and transportation in an appropriate vehicle to a healthcare setting. That is just not always true when it comes to mental health,” said Vincent Atchity of Mental Health Colorado.

The organization said people who need mental health treatment can often times be taken to a hospital by law enforcement or an ambulance, possibly in handcuffs, which can be traumatizing for victims. This bill proposes someone in crisis can be met with clinical professionals and be transported in a safe, designated vehicle.

A professional can “calmly persuade that person, ideally to accompany them voluntarily to a healthcare center in a vehicle that is designed for the purpose, secure, so that nobody can do themselves harm, but not with all of the flashing lights and sirens and drama of being handcuffed and taken away by law enforcement personnel as if you were a criminal,” said Atchity.

Mental Health Colorado is the state’s leading advocacy agency for mental health. They work to promote well-being, increase access to quality care and educate on the shame and discrimination that are often associated with mental health and substance use conditions.

“We are in grave need of serious mental health improvements across our healthcare landscape. Our national organization has ranked Colorado as 47th in the nation out of 50 when it comes to need versus access of care,’ said Atchity.

To read more about the bill itself, click here.