Flagstaff expands mental health services for crisis situations

The city of Flagstaff approved a program expanding mental health services and making it easier for people to access them without police responding to certain calls. 

This week, the city council approved a $2.5 million three-year contract. The money will fund access to behavioral health specialists and paramedics that respond to mental health and public intoxication calls.

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy says the purpose is to "provide a better outcome. That's what we're looking for – a better outcome for some folks that just need some assistance."

How will the services work?

Someone in need of help can call 911 and ask specifically to be directed to a mobile response unit. In these cases, police won't need to respond unless there's also a reported crime.

"It's a lot more efficient use of government resources when we have issues. For example, someone has a heart attack. We send an ambulance, it doesn't require two police vehicles, an ambulance and a fire truck. If we are responding to a mental health crisis, similarly to a heart attack – we don't need to send the whole group there," Deasy said.

The city is working with members of Terros Health on this response unit.

Senior Director for services at Terro Health, David Obergfell, says expanded mental health and public safety services are very much needed especially now amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The reality is the stress is so high right now, there's gonna be a bigger demand for services. especially for behavioral health. That demand is only going to grow so we want to make sure that we are capable of keeping up," Obergfell said.

His message to anyone who may be struggling is to never be afraid to ask for help.

"There's a lot of different systems that can come out to provide support and care for you, so don't hesitate if you need help ask for it," Obergfell said.

Related Stories:

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news: