Content warning: This article mentions suicide.
There have been a lot of discussions about defunding the police that has even turned into a political debate. However, defunding the police does not mean getting rid of the police force altogether. Defunding the police means taking the extreme amount of funding that police precincts obtain and taking excess funds to fund things such as public education and community mental health programs.
One major issue with policing in the United States and mental health is the reality of suicide by cop. This issue arises when a suicidal individual specifically tries to incite the police officer by threatening the officer, whether with a weapon or something that looks like a weapon so that the individual can be shot and killed by the officer.
It is important for police officers to also be better trained at de-escalation techniques and to become more educated in a variety of mental health issues. Police officers and their presence can also usually cause more fear and anxiety with people that have mental health issues.
Here are nine people groups that are more qualified to handle a mental health crisis than a police department.
These individuals are trained on bedside manner.
2. Licensed therapists
These individuals deal with crises every day and are able to deescalate individuals in a calm and collected manner rather than going to violent tactics.
One of the best resources in dealing with children, these individuals are able to calm kids down every day during the school year.
4. Social workers
These individuals are able to deal with the toughest situations and often deal with people of all ages in crisis.
If they can rescue kids from a burning building, they can also de-escalate those that have mental health issues.
These people are trained, again, in bedside manner and to deal with emergency situations.
7. School counselors
Another individual who goes through training in de-escalation techniques for school-aged individuals.
8. Crisis Call Center employees
Whether it's the National Suicide Hotline or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, among many other crisis call lines, there are multiple people willing to help those who are facing a mental health crisis.
9. Loved ones
Friends or family members may be able to help if one is comfortable enough to reach out
If you or anyone you know is in crisis or needs help here are some resources:
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 (1-866-4.U.TREVOR, aimed at helping LGBTQ youth)
Additional mental health resources such as child abuse and domestic violence hotlines can also be found here.