Washington’s system for responding to mental health and behavioral health crises is more like a network of fragmented parts.
Several agencies, organizations and institutions — including 911 operators and crisis phone lines, outpatient clinics, hospital emergency rooms, jails and law enforcement officers — respond to situations where an individual is experiencing a crisis. Those institutions communicate with each other, but also often operate in silos.
In some cases, a person with a mental health disorder is jailed instead of getting treatment to address the crisis and services to decrease severity in the future. Sometimes a person may get medical attention, but there may not be a long-term bed available for intensive care.
The Seattle Times Mental Health Project is investigating this system of crisis response care. Throughout August, reporters are exploring the operators within the system as it stands today.
Stay tuned for a live panel conversation, when experts in mental health will discuss the system and present ideas for how individuals can help those in crisis.
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