Critical Issues: Mental Health Response

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Critical Issues: Mental Health Response

Issue Overview

Law enforcement officers are being called upon to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources and manpower. Responding to individuals who have mental illness or are in crisis is an increasing challenge and an important issue. Law enforcement officers are being asked to assume the responsibility of social workers and other community support roles.

This page is a clearinghouse of resources to help guide law enforcement as they are confronted with difficult questions related to mental health response.

Messaging Worksheet

The following messaging worksheet breaks down the topic of mental health response and provides key talking points and facts to assist you in your daily communications about the subject. This worksheet is exclusively available to IACP members. 

Access the worksheet

Additional Resources

One Mind Campaign

Launched in 2016, the One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness. Participating law enforcement agencies have pledged their commitment to implement four promising practices, including partnering with a community mental health organization, implementing a policy to address police response to persons affected by mental illness, and provision of CIT and MHFA training. 

The  One Mind Campaign was borne out of an advisory group convened by the IACP to discuss the problem and create a set of recommendation to help agencies effectively manage their officers' response to persons affected by mental illness. Two documents summarize the work and recommendations of that advisory group:

Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness 
In May 2009, the IACP, in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, JEHT Foundation, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services held a National Policy Summit on Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness. As a result of the summit, a report was produced that makes recommendations for local, state, federal, and tribal organizations to enhance the safety of community members and law enforcement officers when responding to crisis calls involving a person with mental illness.

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