When an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis and police are called to assist, the responding officer now calls the UC Health Mobile Crisis team by phone to request assistance. The new telehealth mobile crisis response program will equip police officers in the field with tablets that they can use to contact the UC Health Mobile Crisis Team for support via video.
The tablets allow the officer and the individual in need of help to talk remotely with a social worker to determine the level of care that is needed – the social worker may need to respond to the scene to perform an assessment, for example, or may be able to connect the individual with community resources.
"We are very excited to be the first in the region using this type of technology. This should be a great tool in assisting those experiencing mental health challenges," said Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac.
The tablets will be assigned to officers at the beginning of their shifts, and officers may use them to contact a UC Health Mobile Crisis Team member when needed. One officer will hold the iPad during the telehealth triage, while a second officer will remain available at the scene. The social worker will be able to speak to and see the subject through the video call to assess the situation and provide resources.
The telehealth program is the first of its kind in Ohio, and it is based upon successful programs in other communities across the nation that have been shown to reduce incarcerations and hospitalizations. The program launched on Monday, Sept. 27.