Texas city to launch multidisciplinary response to mental health, drug abuse 911 calls

Galveston mental health professionals, paramedics and city police officers will work together


By Leila Merrill

GALVESTON, Texas — Galveston officials and representatives of partner organizations and philanthropies recently announced plans for a multidisciplinary approach in responses to 911 calls involving people with mental health or substance use needs.

Mental health professionals, paramedics and city police officers will work together in a multidisciplinary response that is scheduled to debut in October, according to the city.

Two response teams are planned for Galveston, which has a population of a little under 51,000.
Two response teams are planned for Galveston, which has a population of a little under 51,000. (File photo/David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

The announcement was part of a discussion that included the mayor, the police and fire chiefs, Tiffany Russell, project director for mental health and justice partnerships with Pew Charitable Trusts, and other guests.

The community paramedicine model is based on a proof of concept developed by the Meadows Institute through a grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Fund at Communities Foundation of Texas. The initial implementation began in 2018 in Dallas and is now part of a nationwide collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts.

Six local foundations partnered with Pew and Meadows and donated private funds for the Galveston effort.

Galveston, which has a population of a little under 51,000, plans to have two response teams, which together are expected to have the capacity to respond to at least 75% of the 250 mental health calls the city’s residents make annually, according to Pew.

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