CHARLOTTE, NC — When someone calls 911 for an emergency, police departments are now tasked with determining how to respond if the call centers around a mental health crisis. North Carolina police departments are putting more emphasis on mental health awareness by changing the way they respond to mental health calls.
World Mental Health Day was observed on October 10, 2022. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted that it responded to 111 mental health-related calls for service in the past week. In 2019, the CMPD created an entire team dedicated to mental health crises.
The CMPD is not alone in responding to calls for mental health services. The City of Durham, North Carolina recently launched the Holistic Empathic Assistance Response Team (HEART). It is staffed by crisis intervention clinicians who are trained to assess mental health situations so those who call 911 can get the appropriate help they need. Just like EMS, HEART can also answer a call in the field.
The Raleigh Police Department created the Acorns Unit (Addressing Crises through Outreach, Referrals, Networking and Service (ACORNS)). The ACORNS team assists police on calls involving people in need of mental health intervention. The ACORNS team does not provide diagnosis, advice or health care.
The Wilmington, North Carolina City Police Department has been working with mental health counselors for over 5 years. The police department works with RHA Health Services. If the police determine that they need his expertise, they will send a mobile crisis team to the scene.