Police Outlines Primary Care Options for Mental Health Cases

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MCALLEN – The mother of a Rio Grande Valley man with a mental health disorder wants to know why police officers didn’t take her son to a proper facility.

Patricia Farias recalled her son’s recent mental health crisis.

"Sunday, there was a crisis at the house, without me going into detail. My son was a threat to himself, and he really scared his wife enough she felt she needed to go get a mental health detention order through a judge,” she said.  

Farias said they called San Juan police to help. They wanted an officer to take her son to a mental health facility like the Tropical Texas Behavioral Health Primary Care Clinic.

"They kept saying, no, they couldn't do that. They kept telling my daughter-in-law we can't take him over there directly. They have to call someone in,” said Farias.

Mental health patients require a medical clearance before being admitted into an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Farias said the process is proven to be difficult.

"I feel like I'm in the dark trying to feel my way through the system. It's been very frustrating,” she said.  

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez.  He couldn't speak on the specific case, but explained their protocol.

Gonzalez said they take extra caution if a person is not considered sober.

"That if their under the influence, they will get transported to the hospital to get medically cleared before we transport them to Tropical Behavior so they can be evaluated,” he said.

Tropical Texas Behavioral Health Community Relations coordinator Raquel Rosales said officers have two options: one is to have someone go to the home and screen a client and the second option is the officer can take someone to their clinic to get screened and medically cleared.

"In order to utilize our primary care clinic, it would have to be our mobile crisis outreach team who has been activated to go out and assess that individual, and determine the level of need and if they need to be hospitalized or not... So the medical clearance is usually required before a patient is emitted to inpatient psychiatric,” Rosales said.

Rosales said by taking mental health clients to their facility, it could give the officer more time to get back on the streets. 

"That would really avoid a long wait time at the ER,” he said.

Gonzalez explained the department works with TTBH and each police department has their own respective protocol.

"We're learning that's where I feel there needs to be more education about what's available out there and the process to go through,” said Farias.

Farias hopes the information gets out to the people who need it.  


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