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Mental Health Professionals as Emergency Responders

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Have you heard about co-responders, CAHOOTS (in Oregon), or STAR (in Denver) and wondered what it's all about? There is strong evidence that having mental health professionals respond to emergency calls can have a positive impact on communities.

In this TED talk, Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod makes the case for leveraging the expertise of mental health professionals to respond instead of or in collaboration with local police.

The Colorado Office of Behavioral Health and the Colorado Health Institute published a report with an evaluation of the first two years of eight of Colorado Co-Responder Programs: Responding to Behavioral Health Needs An Evaluation of the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health’s Co-Responder Program. The Council of State Governments Justice Center published a brief with guidance based on evidence across the U.S.: Developing and Successfully Implementing Your Co-Responder Program.

The City of Golden has a part-time co-responder through a grant obtained by Jeffco. It would be great for us to better understand the benefits of this initial program in Golden and how we can incorporate lessons learned in nearby cities. We could then invest city dollars in mental health professionals to improve our emergency response program in Golden (without relying on grants)!

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