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(New Orleans, LA, Thursday, June 15, 2023) – The Orleans Parish Communication District, The City of New Orleans, and the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) are proud to announce the launch of the New Orleans Mobile Crisis Intervention Unit (MCIU), a team of trained mental health professionals who will respond to mental and behavioral health emergencies in the city. Services for this new program will be provided by Resources for Human Development (RHD), a national non-profit service provider who supply the trained health professionals to effectively de-escalate situations when needed and/ or connect individuals with the resource available to find help. This first-of-its-kind for New Orleans mental health crisis response program will be integrated into the OPCD 911 system and operate as another arm of the city’s first field responder system to provide a rapid response to behavioral health calls where weapons or violence are not involved.

“Until now, the only agency able to respond to nonviolent, behavioral health interventions has been law enforcement, who have limited training in mental health and restricted options for how to handle calls,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of the New Orleans Health Department. “Providing an appropriate and patient-centered response to individuals in acute need will improve outcomes and the system as a whole.”

“Addressing public safety as a matter of public health means addressing the root causes, which often times includes mental health,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The result is a multidisciplinary team well-equipped to handle these complex circumstances utilizing innovative, valid, and proven programs that enhance and strengthen our response to mental health and public safety.”

“Here at OPCD, our mission is to get the right people, to the right place, at the right time; better than anyone else in the world,” said OPCD Executive Director and Violent Crime Reduction Taskforce Chair, Tyrell Morris

“In evaluating incidents, national trends, science, and community feedback; we knew we needed to really find the right people. It has been made clear that in many cases the right people during a mental health crisis are licensed professionals and not law enforcement officers. This new program and resource will not only provide us with more tools to respond to emergencies on the ground but also free those valuable resources in our law enforcement agencies who can continue to focus on the reduction of violent crime. We are a proud partner in the project and look forward to seeing our most vulnerable population truly get the help they deserve.”

For more information about New Orleans MCIU, visit //nola.gov/health