POSTING A REASON DAILY UNTIL THE PRIMARY
Police are rightly labeled first responders; their job is to arrive first and secure, stabilize, and assess the situation. That is an incredibly important — and dangerous — role. But we talk too little about second re-sponders — the child welfare worker who comes to a domestic violence call; the foster parents who take in a traumatized child; the ER nurse asking a sexual assault victim to complete a rape kit; a healthcare worker dealing with a mentally unstable homeless man. Those are not easy jobs either. And just as liberals are crazy to say we can replace all the cops with social workers, conservatives are making a mistake if we ignore the call from cops to fully fund these support systems they need to succeed.
We need more mental health resources, and more people in various health and safety systems trained in mental health awareness. We also need more mental health professionals across the credential spectrum; not every mental health response requires a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist.
If we can get more nurses trained in mental health, we can grow our overall mental health workforce far faster than a decades-long solution with scholarships for psychiatrists.
We pursued regionalized centers of excellence (“hubs and spokes”) in treating opioid addiction, and a similar strategy can help with mental health, and ease the burden of law enforcement trying to cope with transporting people in mental health crisis.
Finally, we need to ensure professionals across the service spectrum are trained to be mental health aware. Many of our first responders simply don’t know basic tools and strategies for effective crisis intervention because no one has ever taught them. All first responders should have basic mental-health training.