The initiative offers free mental health support to law enforcement officers in Montana, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota as an extension of Avel eCare’s co-responder model.
Avel eCare, the nation’s leading provider of clinician-to-clinician telemedicine services, announced it is extending its Crisis Care services to include free access for law enforcement officers. Sheriff’s offices and police departments currently using Avel eCare Crisis Care can now connect with behavioral health professionals 24/7 for personal support.
“Crisis Care was originally designed to help law enforcement manage the increasing number of 911 calls involving people in the community with mental health crises. But with the many difficult, high-pressure situations these officers find themselves in, it’s important we give them the help and support they need too,” said Amber Reints, director of behavioral health at Avel eCare.
Research shows police officers experience higher rates of depression, burnout, PTSD, and anxiety than the general population. In addition, it is estimated that almost 25% of police officers have experienced suicidal ideation at least once in their lifetime.
Avel eCare launched Crisis Care in 2020 with the support of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program provided funding to develop a groundbreaking co-responder model that equips law enforcement with on-demand access to behavioral health experts who can assess citizens having a mental health crisis and make informed recommendations for managing the situation. Today, the program is used in 51 sheriff’s offices across South Dakota. The program has grown extensively in the last year by supporting offices and police departments in parts of Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and soon, North Dakota.
“We began under the leadership of our South Dakota Unified Judicial System in 2019 or 2020,” said Staci Ackerman, Executive Director of the South Dakota Sheriffs Association. “At the time, I was skeptical of how this was going to work because I immediately thought of the worst-case scenarios I have had in my career. As someone who has been a certified law enforcement officer in South Dakota since 1993, I can say today that the Crisis Care Response program, through Avel eCare, has been one of the most meaningful experiences I have had, which is affecting change.”
A recent study by the University of Iowa Rural Telemedicine Research Center published in JMIR Mental Health found Crisis Care significantly improved outcomes for individuals in crisis while simultaneously helping law enforcement staff. The data showed that 80% of the individuals Avel eCare assisted were able to stay home and follow up with care resources locally instead of going to jail or the emergency room. Local government units can preserve resources and reallocate time that would otherwise have been spent on arrests and involuntary committals.
For more information on Avel eCare’s Crisis Care program, visit Crisis Care – Avel eCare.
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