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When mental health crises require more than a phone conversation, these mobile units come to help

Most calls to crisis lines are resolved on the phone. But when a call needs an in-person response, a mobile crisis unit often swings into action. The alternative, some fear, is relying on police.

by Abraham Gutman
Updated Sep 30, 2022

A grandmother calls a mental health crisis line for help after her grandson with intellectual disabilities and a history of mental illness attacked her.

The crisis can’t be resolved over the phone. A mobile crisis unit swings into action.

Crisis counselor Cedric McNear gathers paperwork and looks up the address. His colleague Teralynn Turner reaches out to the grandmother for more information. Along with two other mental health professionals, they rush into a white van.

Their mission is to defuse a mental health crisis. They don’t have sirens or flashing lights. Unlike police, they don’t have handcuffs and guns.

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