Tulsa has one of the highest rates of mental illness and suicide in the nation. Despite the problem, state funding for public mental health continues to decline, resulting in an under-resourced early intervention and treatment system. Consequently, highly treatable issues spiral into crisis, overwhelming first responders with emergency calls. Tulsa has now formed a Community Response Team. The CRT members undergo crisis intervention training, including how to respond to fluid/mobile situations.
Part of Tulsa’s solution is the advancement of a program to continue the Community Response Team. An integral part of Tulsa’s Community Policing program, CRT is an innovative, first responder collaboration project between the Mental Health Association OK, Tulsa Police Department, Tulsa Fire Department, Family & Children’s Services’ and Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services. The Tulsa Area United Way provided $106,011 in special community collaboration funding that allows the CRT respond to calls two days each week.
Mayor G.T. Bynum said, “Community Response Teams are a great example of our approach to problem solving: breaking down the old parochial silos and bringing together the best experts in our community to address a specific need. I am thankful for the United Way’s strong support of this innovative program and am eager for us to serve even more Tulsans in need over the year ahead.”