Law enforcement agencies in Baraga County, Michigan, US, are set to implement the Virtual Crisis Care programme, a co-responder model designed to assist law enforcement officers in de-escalating situations involving mental health crises.

Developed by Avel eCare, a nationwide telemedicine provider, the programme offers on-demand access to behavioural health professionals.

Leading this initiative are the Baraga County Memorial Hospital and the Baraga County Sheriff’s Department, with support from the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The programme aims to enhance responses to behavioural health crises by integrating the expertise of professionals, and establishing a model for other communities to follow.

Participating agencies in this collaborative effort include the Baraga County Sheriff’s Department, the Keweenaw Bay Tribal Police Department, the Village of L’Anse Police Department, the Village of Baraga Police Department, and the Michigan State Police (Calumet Post).

According to a press statement, Avel eCare’s Virtual Crisis Care programme has demonstrated positive impacts in 40 counties across South Dakota and parts of Nevada.

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Research has indicated improved outcomes for individuals in crisis and the conservation of local/county resources.

Avel Behavioral Health Services vice president Brian Erickson said: “Our mental health professionals are proud to support the Baraga County area with on-demand support, including de-escalation techniques, risk assessments, and guidance on the best course of action to ensure the safety and well-being the individual in crisis.

“We applaud Copper Shores Community Health Foundation, Baraga County Memorial Hospital, and all participating law enforcement agencies for supporting this effort and working together to improve access to behavioural health services in their community.”