Health Lab, Crime Lab Mental Health Emergencies: Alternative Response and Treatment (MHEART)

Calls to 911 often involve people experiencing a behavioral crisis. Compared to other emergency situations, contact between police and those in behavioral crisis have a higher chance of escalating and resulting in a violent or otherwise harmful outcomes. In response, several cities have begun piloting approaches which aim to identify high-users of emergency services at risk of behavioral health crisis and proactively provide mental health and other supportive services.

The Health Lab and Crime Lab are currently partnering with the Chicago Mayor’s Office, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and Thresholds to use administrative data to identify high-service-utilizers with mental illness.  Identified individuals will be offered engagement in Thresholds’ ACT program, an evidence-based, intensive outreach and skills training intervention. The goal of this project is to proactively intervene and serve individuals at risk for a future behavioral crisis.

The Health and Crime Labs are providing support to evaluate this promising identification and intervention strategy in order to generate evidence about the best ways to assist high-users of emergency services at risk of behavioral crisis.