SALT LAKE CITY — Mental health is a major conversation across the United States and here in Utah. The topic of mental health calls and police are at the top of many people’s minds after body camera footage was released of a 13-year-old autistic boy being shot by SLCPD this week.
FOX13 News talked with Salt Lake City police and the Utah Department of Human Services about mental health and resources in Utah. None of the discussions are about the Sept. 4th shooting.
For the past four years, four Salt Lake City police officers have partnered with a social worker on mental health and homeless calls.
“My job is to handle the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for the department, as well as I try to handle as many mental health calls that come in and we also handle homeless calls and we do follow up that patrol officers go on,” Detective Joseph Taylor said.
Each officer with SLCPD goes through the basic 16-hour mental health training in the police academy, as well as a 40-hour CIT training. The specialized weeklong training includes training from local doctors and experts, as well as scenario-based training and visits with mental health patients.
“We go down to the state hospital to see people that are in treatment, that are stable and kind of hear their story,” Taylor said. Taylor leads the CIT training for the department.
Having more officers, resources and expanding the team’s availability would be helpful, Taylor said. The benefit of going on a call alongside a social worker is it helps to offer more long-term solutions, he said.
“That’s where our social workers are very helpful because some of these people we can try to follow up with them and say hey, are you taking your medication, are you staying up with treatment, let’s make sure you get there,” Taylor said.
More collaboration across the board would be a great benefit to dealing with mental health in Utah, Taylor said.
The Utah Department of Human Services has many resources available for people in Utah experiencing many different types of mental health crisis.
People shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that is through the school system, your primary care doctor or looking online, Eric Tadehara, DHS Assis. Dir. Substance Abuse and Mental Health said. There are a lot more resources than people realize.
“There are mobile crisis teams all the way from the Bear River area all the way to the Saint George area and across the entire state of Utah,” Tadehara said.
Tadehara and Taylor both agree there is always more work to be done as they continue to dedicate their time and work to helping those suffering from mental health.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health problems and needs to talk to someone, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 801-587-3000
For more information on resources in Utah, click here.