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The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
Click here to see resources.
As the State Mental Health Authority, DMH assures and provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. The Department establishes standards to ensure effective and culturally competent care to promote recovery. The Department sets policy, promotes self-determination, protects human rights and supports mental health training and research. This critical mission is accomplished by working in partnership with other state agencies, individuals, families, providers and communities.
NORTHEAST AREA – Tewksbury DMH Office
Susan Wing, Area Director
P.O. Box 387
Tewksbury, MA 01876-0387
Phone (978) 863-5000
Fax (978) 863-5091
TTY (978) 640-1193
Christina Baroni, Assistant: (978) 863-5059
Click here to visit website.
DMH North Shore Site Office
Shetland Office Park
35 Congress Street
Salem, MA 01970
Telephone: (978) 741-7300
Fax: (978) 741-7340
TTY: (978) 741-7360
Person in Charge: Fred Hammdorff
Towns Served: Beverly, Danvers, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester, Marblehead, Middleton, Peabody, Rockport, Salem, Topsfield and Wenham
Emergency/Crisis 24-hr (an alternative to the hospital Emergency Room):
Lahey Health Behavioral Services – Psychiatric Crisis Team
Salem Mobile Crisis and Community Crisis
*35 Congress Street, Building 2, 1st floor, Suite 2150
Salem, MA 01970
Telephone: (978) 744-1585 or 866-523-1216
Person in Charge: Andrea Hall
*new location as of Dec. 2017
Dedicated to Preventing Suicide
By providing TLC – Talking, Listening, Compassion
Confidential Crisis Help Lines:
1-866-912-473 (toll free)
1-877-870-4673 – Statewide Crisis Line
Samaritans of Merrimack Valley is a program of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley. NAMI Cape Ann communities are included in their service area.
View some resources to help you through a crisis: Click on the brochure below.
Crisis Intervention brochure.pdf
Emergency Response Guide
People exhibiting abnormal behavior may be exhibiting symptoms of mental illness. It is important for police departments to recognize that mental illness is a disability and, therefore, police response must comply with the conditions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Specifically, Title II of the ADA requires police departments to extend to citizens with disabilities the rights, protections, and services that are extended to all other people. If the person’s abnormal behavior is criminal activity, the officer must select the disposition appropriate to the situation, just as he or she would do in any other case.
According to a 2006 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of all prison and jail inmates had a mental health problem, including 705,600 inmates in State prisons, 78,800 in Federal prisons, and 479,900 in local jails. These estimates represented 56% of State prisoners, 45% of Federal prisoners, and 64% of jail inmates. The findings in this report were based on data from personal interviews with State and Federal prisoners in 2004 and local jail inmates in 2002.
Mental health problems were defined by two measures: a recent history or symptoms of a mental health problem that occurred in the 12 months prior to the interview. A recent history of mental health problems that included a clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional. Symptoms of a mental disorder were based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV).
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- Most people with mental illness are no longer kept in hospitals. Recovery is possible.
- With proper treatment, people with mental illness are no more prone to violence than the general population.
- Failure to follow police directives during a psychotic episode is most likely not an act of defiance.
- Often people with mental illness need treatment, not jail. Their illnesses often worsen when the when they are jailed.
- The mentally ill are more often victims than perpetrators.
- Treatment and law enforcement training can mean the difference between life and death.
WHAT TO DO
- Stay calm and don’t overreact. Be helpful and professional.
- Gather information from family or bystanders. Families are good sources of information
to help access the person’s history and current problems.
- Indicate you are trying to understand and help.
- Speak simply and briefly and move slowly.
- Remove distractions, upsetting influences, and disruptive people from the scene.
- Understand that you may not have a rational discussion.
- Recognize that the person may be overwhelmed by sensations, frightening thoughts and
beliefs, sounds, “voices,” or the environment.
- Be friendly, patient, accepting and encouraging, but remain firm and professional.
- Be aware your police uniform, gun, handcuffs, and nightstick may frighten the person.
- Reassure him or her.
- Recognize and acknowledge that the person’s delusional hallucinatory experience is real to him or her.
- Announce your actions before initiating them.
WHAT NOT TO DO
- Do not move suddenly, give orders rapidly, or shout. Do not force discussion.
- Avoid direct, continuous eye contact
- If possible, do not touch the person
- Do not “crowd” the person or move into his “buffer zone.”
- Do not express anger, impatience, or irritation.
- Do not assume that a person who is unresponsive cannot hear you.
- Do not use inflammatory language, such as “whacko,” “psycho,” or “loony.”
- Do not argue with delusional or hallucinatory statements or mislead the person into thinking you think or feel the same way.
- In those situations where a person is behaving in a manner that poses a serious danger to him or herself or others and must be removed from the scene, the officer will need to decide whether to arrest the person, if a crime has been committed, or transport him or her to a local authorized mental health facility for evaluation
To help determine the appropriate disposition, evaluate the following about the individual:
- Past and present behavior
- Dangerousness to others
- Dangerousness to self
- Ability to take care of him or herself
- Availability of family member or care giver
- Community support network
- Whether or not he or she has committed a crime – and the seriousness of the crime, if one was committed.
OPTIONS FOR DISPOSITION
- Unconditional release of person
- Release to family or care giver
- Release and refer to a specific local program, agency, or mental health provider
- Release with individual’s agreement to seek examination voluntarily
- Turn individual over to a mental health professional
- Detain for involuntary examination
- Arrest, only if a serious crime has been committed
The decision about the disposition of an incident involving a person with mental illness should be appropriate to the situation and his or her condition. People who are confused, incoherent, or unable to interact with others are vulnerable and should not be left on their own.
MASSACHUSETTS LAW CHAPTER 123: SECTION 12
Emergency restraint and hospitalization of persons posing risk of serious harm by reason of mental illness.
Click here to read provisions of law.