Mobilizing in a Mental Health Crisis: Six Months after the Shootings in Tucson, Agencies Share Lessons on How to Prepare and Respond to a Community Tragedy Involving Mental Health
Cash, Neal, Gentile, Edward, Do, Seaney, Vanessa, Behavioral Healthcare
On Jan. 8, a mass shooting occurred in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. A nine-year-old girl, a federal judge and a well-known Giffords staff member were among those killed. Media from around the world poured into this close-knit community of almost a million people. Spontaneous memorials blossomed across the city, as clusters of Tucsonans gathered to comfort each other.
The shock of such violence on a lovely Saturday morning, the high profile of Rep. Giffords, and the diversity of the other victims gave thousands of Southern Arizonans the feeling of a close connection to the victims and meant that many would experience traumatic reactions of varying intensity.
County and state government asked Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA), which for 16 years has overseen public behavioral health services in Pima County, to coordinate a response to tragedy-related mental health needs in the community. We were fortunate to have a long-established executive team to lead our effort and many partners in other community systems and organizations that provided help.
CPSA and its providers mobilized with the support of local, state and federal agencies, advocate and consumer-run organizations, and many other partners, all the while ensuring the 30,000 people enrolled and already receiving services in our system received unbroken support. Our members with serious mental illness, in particular, were affected by media speculation about the accused gunman's mental health and the resulting flare-up of myths about mental illness and violence.
CPSA established an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate and report on efforts and worked with its crisis-line provider to set up a Tucson Tragedy Support Line. At the same time, CPSA's team of crisis responders …
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Publication information: Article title: Mobilizing in a Mental Health Crisis: Six Months after the Shootings in Tucson, Agencies Share Lessons on How to Prepare and Respond to a Community Tragedy Involving Mental Health. Contributors: Cash, Neal - Author, Gentile, Edward - Author, Do - Author, Seaney, Vanessa - Author. Magazine title: Behavioral Healthcare. Volume: 31. Issue: 5 Publication date: July-August 2011. Page number: 22+. © 2009 Vendome Group LLC. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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