Durham is launching a new program to help people with behavioral and mental health issues

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) — A new focus on crisis response in Durham.

The city is the first in the state to create an “unarmed mental health” department.

The new program starts on Tuesday.

The goal is to tailor 911 responses to the needs of people suffering from behavioral and mental health issues.

Durham is the first North Carolina city to deploy unarmed mental health professionals.

The city’s Community Safety Department is launching three new crisis response pilot programs.

Mental health clinicians will be embedded in the Durham Emergency Communications Center on Tuesday.

This department for emergency calls is designed to quickly connect residents to a psychiatrist.

The second program, Community Response Teams, will launch on Wednesday.

Unarmed three-person teams are dispatched as first responders when 911 calls are received regarding nonviolent mental illness or quality of life concerns.

Then on Thursday, the city will roll out the Care Navigation Program.

This provides in-person and telephone follow-up by clinicians and peer support 48 hours after an individual meets with one of the pilot program responders.

A co-response pilot will begin later in the year, pairing clinicians with law enforcement officers to respond to behavioral health 911 calls, which pose a greater potential safety concern.

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