LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted $3.8 million to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to launch a Virtual Crisis Care program in Nevada. This program would equip 11 law enforcement agencies with tablets, allowing officers to provide 24/7 access to behavioral health professionals via telehealth.
The Virtual Crisis Care program will ensure that Nevada’s most remote residents receive the same exceptional behavioral health care they would receive in Las Vegas or Reno.
“Nevadans across the state all deserve access to care when in need or experiencing a crisis. I am so thankful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their partnership on this innovative project that will put resources into the hands of our rural law enforcement officers,” said Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Trustees say Nevada’s program is modeled after a South Dakota pilot program that helps officers call on trained experts to de-escalate mental health crises such as suicide ideation, self-harm, and depression.
“This partnership between law enforcement and behavioral health professionals has been instrumental in providing top-notch care on scene while reducing unnecessary trips to emergency rooms, mental health hospitals, and jails,” Walter Panzirer, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said. “We’re excited to help bring this innovative program to Nevada and improve rural and frontier residents’ access to vital mental health resources.”
One in five calls to law enforcement involves a person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the national nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center. The Virtual Crisis Care program will help more of those individuals receive immediate care from mental health professionals in the privacy of their own homes, or wherever the crisis is occurring.
“Providing access to mental health care for all Nevadans is a priority, and being able to work with our law enforcement partners to equip them with the tools and make sure that happens is a major step forward,” said Misty Vaughan Allen, Nevada’s state suicide prevention coordinator. “This new telehealth option will allow immediate, on-site assistance to anyone in crisis.”
The program will make a huge difference in towns like Elko, which sits about 200 miles from any large urban area and lacks significant mental health resources, said Elko Police Chief Ty Trouten.
Using tablets, Elko police officers will be able to respond to people’s homes and connect them with quality care and follow-up.
“I believe that this will make a significant difference,” Trouten said. “It’s going to be another piece in the puzzle for our resource list and our spectrum of care that we can provide. I’m very grateful for it and look forward to great things from it.”
Other agencies participating in the program are the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Lander County Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Mesquite Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the West Wendover Police Department, the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office and the Winnemucca Police Department.
Under the Virtual Crisis Care program, law enforcement officers in the field can call a crisis response team to request a safety assessment. Officers then provide the person needing help with a tablet for a video consult. Once the crisis response team completes the assessment and communicates with law enforcement, they work to establish follow-up care with local mental health resources.