Press Releases

UC Health, CPD Launch Ohio’s First Telehealth Mobile Crisis Program

Sep. 30, 2021

CINCINNATI – The UC Health Mobile Crisis Team and the Cincinnati Police Department have launched a telehealth mobile crisis response program that will expand access to mental health services to individuals in need. The program is the first of its kind in Ohio.

When an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis and police are called to assist, the responding officer now calls the UC Health Mobile Crisis team by phone to request assistance. The new telehealth mobile crisis response program will equip police officers in the field with tablets that they can use to contact the UC Health Mobile Crisis Team for support via video.

The tablets allow the officer and the individual in need of help to talk remotely with a social worker to determine the level of care that is needed – the social worker may need to respond to the scene to perform an assessment, for example, or may be able to connect the individual with community resources.

"We are very excited to be the first in the region using this type of technology. This should be a great tool in assisting those experiencing mental health challenges," said Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac.

The tablets will be assigned to officers at the beginning of their shifts, and officers may use them to contact a UC Health Mobile Crisis Team member when needed. One officer will hold the iPad during the telehealth triage, while a second officer will remain available at the scene.  The social worker will be able to speak to and see the subject through the video call to assess the situation and provide resources.

The telehealth program is the first of its kind in Ohio, and it is based upon successful programs in other communities across the nation that have been shown to reduce incarcerations and hospitalizations. The program launched on Monday, Sept. 27.

“This is a new way of working with police that many other communities across the country are using, but our partnership with CPD is the first in Ohio,” said UC Health Mobile Crisis Team Supervisor Kathleen Neher, MSW, LISW-S. “This gives police officers and social workers another tool to be able to help those who are struggling with mental health issues.”

UC Health’s Mobile Crisis Team has served the community since 1986, providing mental health evaluations and treatment to individuals in crisis situations. Licensed social workers are available to respond to psychiatric emergencies within the community by phone, in person and, now, via video.

In 2020, the UC Health Mobile Crisis Team received nearly 3,000 calls for assistance, which resulted in 1,339 visits to homes, agencies or sites of a crisis. All of the team’s two dozen employees are licensed social workers with master’s degrees. They provide emergency interventions such as crisis counseling, information and referral, and psychosocial assessments to determine the immediate needs of the individual.

The telehealth mobile crisis response program is funded by $638,610 in state and local grants through the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Service Board. The funding supports the addition of technology, personnel, training and communication for the program:

  • In April 2021, the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Service Board received $234,706 from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to fund infrastructure enhancements for crisis services in Hamilton County. HCMHRSB allocated $234,706 to MCT to strengthen the current infrastructure to improve efficiencies in delivery of service by updating technology used in the field, to create a marketing program to reach a wider audience in Hamilton County and to increase training material for the community. The funding also added a second-shift MCT triage worker as well as a supervisor to focus specifically on the expansion of the MCT team and strengthen partnerships with the community and law enforcement.
  • In April 2021, The City of Cincinnati awarded HCMHRSB $403,904.00 for calendar years 2021 and 2022 to expand Mobile Crisis Services within the Cincinnati Police Department. The funding allows for the addition of a two-person team on second shift that will respond to mental health crises Monday through Friday and on Saturdays. The funds will also support the use of telehealth and video conferencing in the field to assist officers with immediate intervention from a licensed clinician. CPD will be the first law enforcement department in Ohio to utilize telehealth to address mental health runs involving law enforcement.