Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Morris, Teresa


Purpose: This study explored mental health workers perspectives on alternative approaches in responding to mental health crises.

The study was carried out in Southern California, in collaboration with mental health workers who currently work or previously have worked in mental health crisis. It adopted a post-positivists paradigm and data was gathered through individual interviews with mental health workers who have direct experience with mental health crisis response in the community and with the police. The twenty participants in the study were men and women working in the mental health field, and of various backgrounds, licensures, and ages.

The study found that the current approaches of addressing mental health crisis needs expansive revamping. The approaches from police were observed to be mostly negative and due to this line of work, not enough support and training is prioritized for mental health workers. Alternative key solutions were unfolded on the micro, mezzo, macro levels.

This study is important to find alternative approaches sensitive to the individual’s needs and with the full support of the police. At the micro-level, knowledge gained from this study could assist agencies in understanding what additional resources and support mental health workers need to de-escalate crises. At the macro-level, mental health workers perspective of working with police, reallocating funds, program expansions, and help advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals with serious mental illness.