It is time to rethink how our public safety, social services, and health care communities respond to individuals with mental illness. With demand for public mental health care services on the rise, we need to identify creative ways to more efficiently and effectively apportion resources.

For too long, the state has applied a piecemeal approach to mental health matters, and local governments and law enforcement have by default been assigned the responsibility of responding to mental health emergencies. I applaud these groups for faithfully answering the call. However, we are at a point where our region and state must find new ways to identify and implement best practices for the treatment of mental illness through long-term solutions, not emergency responses or incarceration. There is a growing need for coordination among law enforcement and health care professionals to help properly treat individuals suffering from mental illness and provide access to quality care, ensuring taxpayer dollars are used to provide effective treatment.