Missoula Crisis Team Creates Mental Health Form for Law Enforcement | Local News


As Mental Health Awareness Month begins, the Missoula Crisis Response Team is rolling out a new form to help law enforcement officers and mental health professionals coordinate responses to people suffering from mental health problems.

The CIT launched a new mental health referral form on April 18.

“It goes beyond the form we used to use,” said Theresa Williams, CIT program manager.

The form is available at facilities where law enforcement officers often transfer people in mental health crisis, including Western Montana Mental Health and Providence St. Patrick Hospital.

Mental health professionals provide the form to law enforcement at the time of transfer to gather more information about the person receiving medical care.

“It’s very important that they have this collateral information, because we don’t just want to take away someone’s rights,” Williams said.

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The form was created in response to the rapid and frequent release of people showing signs of mental illness, Williams said, adding that she believes a lack of consistent information between agencies has led people in these scenarios to be released before they are ready.

She said the form was created to combat “misinformation and miscommunication” between law enforcement officers and mental health care providers.

“We really want to make sure the officer and the mental health professional are communicating…so we can guarantee a really strong outcome for the individual,” Williams said.

In an effort to improve these lines of communication, Williams and his team developed a more comprehensive form to replace the 10 yes-or-no questions that law enforcement officers previously completed when transferring someone with disabilities. mental health problems.

The new form asks law enforcement officers to list behaviors that were evident in the individual when the police were called, any delusions or hallucinations the person is experiencing and information about any medications the person may take.

sergeant. Ben Slater of the Missoula Police Department said the new form collects more qualitative and quantitative information from officers whenever they deem it necessary to take someone to a facility for mental health care.

“The form has been redesigned to better report to mental health professionals what was observed on the spot,” he said.

He said the prompts on the new form help law enforcement officers better communicate about mental illness.

The new form allows for greater consistency with reporting, Slater added.

Previously, Slater said, the form contained “very vague language.”

He said the earlier version of the form did not “provide appropriate information to a mental health professional or other medical professional.”

“As cops, we do very well with crime,” he said. “Involvement in mental health does not always have criminal elements.”

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