Mental Health & Police Reform: Are Intervention Teams Working?
RIGHT Care stands for Rapid Integrated Group Healthcare Team. It started in 2018 after a study from the Meadows Mental Health Institute found the number of mental health-related calls increased by 18 percent from 2012 through 2015. The report also says the Dallas County Jail acts as the main treatment provider for people with mental illnesses who are involved with the criminal justice system. That’s something agency officials wanted to change.
“The goal of RIGHT Care is to more effectively and more appropriately handle psychiatric or mental health calls in the field, taking the care right to where a situation is needed, versus our traditional approach throughout the city of either taking someone to a medical facility or to jail,” said Lt. Isaac Gooch of Dallas Fire-Rescue.
Once the police officer deems the situation safe, the paramedic assesses the person’s physical health and determines if there are immediate medical concerns. Forty-two year fire department veteran Abel Ramirez knows about getting clients where they need to go.
“Not only that they are guided to the right centers where they can take care of their needs, but also deviated from the ones that are not needed to be on,” he said.
Then social workers like Kristin Peterson step in to evaluate a client’s mental health and social well-being.
“It is such an urgent crisis for them,” Peterson said. “Things have become the absolute worst case for them…We’re connecting patients to the help that they have been looking for some time and they didn’t know it was available to them.”
According to Parkland Hospital officials, 30 percent of the RIGHT Care team’s encounters are diverted from jail or the hospital.
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