Pawhuska Police Present Success With Tablets For Mental Health To State Capitol

Monday, September 9th 2019, 10:49 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

A Green Country police department is leading the way on how they say officers should approach mental health issues on the job.

The Pawhuska police chief said they've been able to use tablets to directly connect people who need help with counselors through video chat.

They've seen success already, and shared that success with other law enforcement and lawmakers in OKC, with hopes of getting everyone in the state on the same page.

About a month ago, News On 6 told reported Pawhuska police using those tablets to get help for a man who asked police to kill him.

Related Story - Pawhuska PD Using Tablets to Connect People to Mental Health Professionals

Monday at the State Capitol, our story aired to a group of lawmakers, police departments and EMS agencies from across Oklahoma, to show them the power of getting people help instantly.

"It's face to face," Chief Nick Silva said about the tablets. "You open it up, power it up, and it connects you to FaceTime with a mental health professional."

Pawhuska Police got the iPads loaded with the program from Oklahoma-based Grand Lake Mental health. Grand Lake Mental Health gets the funding through both state and federal grants. CEO Charles Danley said currently law enforcement in 12 counties in Northeast Oklahoma use them.

"Our mission is to provide services to people when they need it as soon as possible, instead of waiting for them to come to us," Danley said. 

Silva said rural departments are rare because people needing help can't seek it out easily.

He said just in the past 2 months, they've taken nine people to mental health facilities after using the tablets.

"They want the help," Silva said. 

Lawmakers and law enforcement are trying to streamline mental health assistance, so agencies in Oklahoma can be on the same page, and have the same protocol for approaching mental health.

"We have an opportunity to be the first state in the nation to solve this issue," Danley said. 

"This is awesome," Silva said. "It's a great chance. We've got the ball rolling and we're gonna keep it going."

Silva says the agencies are meeting again in 2 weeks to revisit the issue.

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