Dakota County expands mental health crisis assistance

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Dakota County 911 dispatchers can now send mental health calls directly to social workers, following a state law passed in 2021.

DAKOTA COUNTY, Minn. — “It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and we see this as an opportunity,” said Emily Schug, assistant director of social services for Dakota County.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Schug says the county continues to expand its crisis resources.

“In Dakota County, we have a state-of-the-art training center where we help train officers and other public safety partners in crisis response training,” she said. .

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This training center opened last year, providing space for local law enforcement and first responders to access crisis training.

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners also recently approved funding for nine more social workers — amid plans already being made for non-policing mental health crisis response options.

“We recognize the growing need for mental health services,” she said.

The Dakota County Dispatch Referral Program launched around September, in partnership with several local agencies.

Through February, 78% of the county’s crisis calls were routed to social workers.

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Something says Schug allows a designated professional to access the situation and seek more help. Before the 911 transfer program, these calls would have started with a response from law enforcement.

“It was very successful,” she said.

Schug says the county is working on ongoing partnerships to provide a combination of responses at all times.

With mental health calls increasing every year, Schug says the goal is to find long-term solutions for those in need.

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“If people are contacting 911 for support and help, we want to make sure we are able to respond with people who are trained in mental health and know the connections for resources,” she said. declared.

Visit the Dakota County website for more information on mental health resources. The Suicide Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255 or by texting “hom” to 741741.

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