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People calling 911 in mental health crisis have new support with Tempe partnership

If someone calls 911 in Tempe and they are in a mental health crisis, a new partnership will allow you to speak to specialized professionals.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, the topic of mental health and the importance of dealing with any issues concerning our own well being has been pushed to the front of our minds.

The priority to find ways to deal with mental health has made it to the top of many organizations and businesses, including the City of Tempe.

Officials from the city announced a new partnership designed to help Tempe residents dealing with mental health crises. Thanks to this new initiative, people who call 911 and need emergency help during a mental health crises will talk to specialized professionals. 

This new partnership will change how Tempe currently handles 911 calls.

According to a release from the city, if a non-violent, suicidal caller calls 911, he or she will be able to talk to a mental health professional immediately. Tempe-based contractor Solari Crisis & Human Services will provide the professionals to help those in need of immediate assistance. 

Tempe officials said the specialists will be embedded alongside Tempe 911 dispatchers and if someone is in need of in-person help, then a CARE 7 crisis response team will be sent to the person's location. 

This response will be done instead of dispatching a Tempe police officer to the person in crisis. If an emergency call reveals a person in crisis is armed or violent, Tempe police still will respond.

Solari operates crisis hotlines in Central and Northern Arizona. According to the release, the organization receives nearly 22,000 calls each month. The new system for the call responses is expected to begin on Jan. 31.

The Tempe City Council approved the contract with Solari during a council meeting on Jan. 13.

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