Citizens for Mental Health & Public Safety
Advocating for mental health funding in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County
Make your voice heard on how to spend the County Mental Health & Public Safety Millage funds
If you or someone you know needs immediate help with a mental health issue, call Washtenaw County Community Mental Health 24/7 Access/Crisis Services at 734-544-3050.
A Guide for Ann Arbor City Officials To Improved Public Safety Services
A. Deflect and Diversion from Law Enforcement To Help Through Counseling and Therapy
(Numbering of principles is continuous through sections A - F.)
1. Policies should focus on i) deflecting people with pressing problems, and in crisis in the worst cases, to appropriate services rather
than to law enforcement which often leads to penalization and incarceration and ii) diverting people into therapeutic pathways from law enforcement channels if they do enter the criminal justice system.
The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) is a useful guide for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of our community’s institutions for dealing with people in crisis. The guide also suggests action steps to lessen weaknesses and buttress strengths.
The County is using SIM in its work, e.g. see “WCCMH & WCSO Collaboration Update: Sequential Intercept Map Enhancements”, Attachment #7, at this link. Thus, this framework is consistent with principles #7 and #8 regarding a cooperative effort.
2. The crisis response policy framework should include access to the broad array of available community services and not be limited to
police, fire, and ambulance services. The SIM framework includes this as “Intercept 0” titled “Community Services”. For example, policy and public education should include the 211 telephone number which is
“… available 24/7, and provides information about health and human services resources available. … Whether you are looking for medical help, foreclosure prevention programs, utility assistance, help with food or clothing, or any other challenge facing your family, a call to … 2-1-1 may provide the answers you are looking for. Dial 9-1-1 for emergency calls.” (link to information on 211)
The network of crisis response access points (e.g. 911, 988, 211, and WCCMH Access) should be coordinated so people in crisis are directed to the appropriate person or place in a timely manner regardless of the access point they choose at the outset. Those designing the network should remember a crisis is defined by the person experiencing it and is not limited to the cases we often stereotypically link to crises. Many crises do not require an armed law enforcement response nor are mental health related nor involve a condition requiring hospitalization nor require fire fighting expertise.
3. Increased use of unarmed crisis response teams, and of invisible (to the person in crisis) backup by law enforcement officers,
should be an important component of reforms. The SIM framework includes this as “Intercept 1”. The arrival of a uniformed, armed law enforcement officer often escalates tension whereas the arrival of an unarmed clinician or social worker often de-escalates tension. In situations where responders believe the probability of violence is small but positive, the unarmed person or team should assume leadership while the armed officers wait out of sight “around the corner” in a supportive position to respond in a minute or less.
Use these links to go to other parts of the "Guide for Ann Arbor City Officials ...."
B. Respond To the Current Crisis Among Children and Youth
C. Recognize 988 Will Soon Take Its Place Alongside 911
D. Recognize and Utilize Local Expertise
E. Recognize People -- Not Abstract "Institutions" -- Implement Policies