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BHR Receives Grant, Partners with St. Louis County Police to Improve Mental Health Care


Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs
Media Specialist, (314) 799-7851

St. Louis, Mo, Feb. 28, 2017 – Behavioral Health Response (BHR) was awarded a $1,116,104 grant from Missouri Foundation for Health to help law enforcement fight mental illness. Through a partnership with St. Louis County Police Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), BHR has implemented a Virtual-Mobile Crisis Intervention program (V-MCI), which helps police cope with difficult calls for service and increase community safety when faced with an individual in a mental crisis. The program seeks to reduce the reliance of emergency department visits to address emotional crises.

With the V-MCI, a St. Louis County law enforcement can contact a BHR mental health clinician via face time by
iPad to provide real-time counseling to the individual in crisis. If additional assistance is needed, BHR mobile outreach staff is dispatched to provide on-site support and assessment.

“We are grateful for the support of Missouri Foundation for Health and St. Louis County Police. With our struggling mental health system, law enforcement has increasingly become the first responders to people experiencing mental health crisis. V-MCI allows for St. Louis County Police to team with our mental health professionals to deliver a positive outcome, ultimately diverting jail time and emergency department visits,” says Pat Coleman, BHR president and chief executive officer.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year, 2 million jail bookings involve a person with mental illness. One in four people killed in officer-involved shootings has a serious mental illness. Currently, St. Louis County Police Department’s CIT officers respond to approximately 5,000 calls per year. Approximately, 90 percent of these call result in transporting the individual to an emergency department for a mental health evaluation.

“St. Louis County Police is committed to ensuring we provide the most effective services for individuals with behavioral health disorders. The Virtual-Mobile Crisis Intervention program embraces technology and affords officers the ability to connect a person suffering from a mental health crisis to appropriate resources in a timely manner. This program is part of our ongoing effort to better serve the community by directing those in need to mental health care, thereby diverting them away from the criminal justice system. We are pleased to partner with Behavioral Health Response on such a worthy endeavor,” says St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

With its St. Louis County Police partnership, BHR estimates it will conduct approximately 1,248 virtual-mobile crisis assessments and help divert 60 percent of people from going to jail and or the emergency department.

About Behavioral Health Response (BHR)
Established in 1994, BHR is a nonprofit organization providing 24-hour telephone counseling to people in mental health crises as well as mobile outreach, community referrals and critical incident stress management in St. Louis and the counties of  St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Warren, Iron, St. François and Washington.