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Adding tools to our toolbox

You wouldn't ask a plumber to fix your car, or a mechanic to fix your braids. You would ask the professional who has the expertise and tools you need.

Our crisis care options work the same way: not every first responder is right for each unique crisis. Cleveland needs to work with a full toolbox to get the job done right.

What's in our toolbox right now?

Currently, the city of Cleveland relies on police officers to be our first responders to a wide range of calls and issues. Cleveland's Division of Police includes CIT-trained officers, who are trained in crisis de-escalation and how to recognize mental health symptoms (more HERE).

In 2023, Cleveland has also invested in the expansion of our co-response teams, in which mental health case workers accompany police to certain calls (more HERE). Firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs respond to calls that require their specialized skills.



  • A community advisory body

  • The ability to dispatch care responders directly to 911 calls

  • The inclusion of certified peer responders

  • Connections to a wide swath of healthcare providers to offer somewhere to go for someone in crisis

  • A program planning process that solicits and responds to the feedback of directly impacted community members

What is care response?

Care response means providing a healthcare response for mental health crises. When you have a heart attack, healthcare-trained paramedics and EMTs respond. When you are experiencing mental health symptoms, non-healthcare-trained police officers respond. Care response would send mental healthcare specialists to non-violent behavioral health-related calls.

Policy Matters Ohio defines care response as "a health-first unarmed response to certain mental health crises that relies on mental health professionals and peers who understand how to meet the needs of the person experiencing the crisis." Read more HERE.

How could care response work in Cleveland?

Care responders could be social workers, mental health specialists, crisis interventionists, or trained peers.

Care responders must be connected to city 911 infrastructure, and able to take calls from 911 or 988.

Care responders can provide an on-scene response in less than 10 minutes, just like other first responders.

Residents can call 911 or 988, explain their mental health crisis or symptoms, and receive specialized assistance.

For more information on how a care response pilot could be right-sized to Cleveland and the broader Cuyahoga County community based on our infrastructure, funding, and capacity, check out a report drafted by former Ohio MHAS director Dr. Mark Hurst for the Cuyahoga ADAMHS Board HERE.

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