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What to do When Someone is Having a Mental Health Crisis on the Street

Updated: Jun 22, 2022 07:45
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Justin Keller’s absurd, entitled, whiny, anti-homeless rant got me thinking about this.

Not long ago I was walking near Church and Market and suddenly there was a bunch of hubbub behind me. You know what I’m talking about, it’s not loud and raucous but there’s some kind of disturbance that sets off your Spidey-Sense and makes you turn around.

Just then, a butt naked African-American woman in her 40s, ran by screeching and then went into one of the local businesses. It was obvious from the scene and the way things went down that she wasn’t one of the nudists who hang out in the Castro (or at least used to before Scott Wiener banned it). She was absolutely having a mental health crisis and needed help.

But the question was: who was I supposed to call?

I knew for sure that I didn’t want to call the police. There’s the great quote by Abraham Maslow that says “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” And unfortunately that’s often how it is with the American police. They are trained in ending crisis situations forcefully, but there isn’t enough training in how to deescalate them so that no one gets hurt or killed. While that is in the process of changing as we speak, I’d still rather involve people who already have the training.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the answer then, and as some of the business owners had begun making phone calls, I continued on to my way hoping they did know who to call. But I decided then to find out who I should call next time something like that arises. Below are the answers:

Mobile Crisis Team

The Mobile Crisis Treatment Team is made up of a diverse multidisciplinary staff providing psychiatric crisis intervention services for adults located in the City and County of San Francisco.

Phone number: 415-970-4000


Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 11 PM (last field visit at 10PM)
Saturdays and Holidays  12 Noon to  8 PM  (last field visit at 7PM)
[Closed Sundays]

Services Provided:
•    Emergency crisis assessment/intervention services conducted in the field
•    Early intervention before situation escalates to critical crisis point
•    Consultation services provided to consumers, housing/support systems, mental health providers, and other concerned parties
•    Assistance with linkage to outpatient mental health services
•    5150 evaluation capacity and determination of appropriate level of care
•    Short-term medication services may be available
•    Spanish, Russian, and Cantonese/Mandarin speaking staff (schedules vary)
•    Available to all adult residents (at least 18 years old), regardless of payer source

Geriatric Mobile Crisis Team

Phone number:  337-4722
Provides mobile crisis response anywhere in San Francisco for individuals over 60 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

As their site says “When 911 isn’t the best option, connect with the Compassionate Response Network”

Also from their site: We are a compassionate social service network that connects people in need to volunteer responders trained in crisis intervention and mediation.Concerned citizens can download our mobile app on iPhone or Android or call us directly to access our services. We make it easy for both witnesses and victims of nonviolent crises to create a report and directly dispatch our network.

We believe that this “Compassionate Response” model is more humane, harm-reducing, and cost-effective than a law enforcement approach to non-violent crises.

You can learn about their Tenderloin pilot program and download the app here.


If it’s not during the hours that the Mobile Crisis Team is open, and it’s not in the Tenderloin (which his where serves) call 311. Explain to them the situation and ask for them to send out the Homelessness Outreach Team.

Are there services that I’m missing? Please let me know in the comments.


Thanks to Jenny Friedenbach and Amy Weiss for giving me this info.

**For those wondering why I included the woman’s ethnicity in the story: It’s because American police shoot black people more often than white people.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.


  1. Robin Edgar
    February 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Is there any equivalent of these for the South Bay? I live in Palo Alto and these moments are all too common and heartbreaking.

  2. February 18, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    LOVE love love this post. Thank you.

  3. Kristen
    February 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    These are all good for folks in immediate, but non-life threatening, crisis. It’s also good to familiarize yourself with the drop-ins and safe spaces in your area. If somebody is in a space to hear you and receive your help, letting them know that there are spaces in the immediate area where they can go and be safe, receive services, eat, etc, can be incredibly valuable.

    Also, please be respectful if people do not want your help. You don’t always know or can see what’s going on with somebody, their past, their traumas, etc, and no matter how “needy” somebody appears, they have the right to tell you to leave them alone, that they don’t want your help, your leftovers, your money, etc.

  4. foobar
    February 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    If you’re going to cast your judgement and jump on the anti-Justin Keller bandwagon; calling his post whiny, absurd and entitled, then maybe you should consider how it makes you look describing someone as “butt naked.”

    • Alex Brideau III
      February 18, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      That’s interesting indeed. I had no idea of the history of the expression.

      • Monika Tippie
        February 19, 2016 at 12:26 am

        I’m glad to know this now: “The standard expression is “buck naked,” and the contemporary “butt naked” is an error that will get you laughed at in some circles. However, it might be just as well if the new form were to triumph. Originally a “buck” was a dandy, a pretentious, overdressed show-off of a man. Condescendingly applied in the US to Native Americans and black slaves, it quickly acquired negative connotations. To the historically aware speaker, “buck naked” conjures up stereotypical images of naked “savages” or—worse—slaves laboring naked on plantations. Consider using the alternative expression “stark naked.””

      • Ralph Furley
        February 19, 2016 at 8:20 am

        “To the historically aware speaker, “buck naked” conjures up stereotypical images”

        This is a good reason not to burden oneself with historical knowledge. It enables one to listen for intent, instead of irrelevant subtext from generations long perished.

      • February 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

        Not really, since every word is loaded with historical use.

        It’s better to apologize and learn when one is offended – than go looking for offenses that are probably not there.

      • Abrasax
        February 20, 2016 at 9:37 am

        Except it’s not irrelevant subtext from generations long perished. It’s common knowledge. I would rather understand the words I use, wouldn’t you?

      • Ralph Furley
        February 21, 2016 at 8:18 pm
      • Abrasax
        February 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Wow, he’s cute! Thanks for the photo 🙂

    • February 25, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Actually, Native American warriors were called “bucks” by the colonists, and sometimes were naked, or near-naked, hence the term.

  5. Miles_Long
    February 18, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Dude, your story was an emergency. 911 should have been called. Those other agencies do not have the power or authority to handle a violent situation. The ability of those agencies to get there in a timely manner and address the situation isn’t the same as police.

    While those agencies have value, it’s best to call police in an emergency. A naked woman howling in a place of business is an emergency situation.

    • Ralph Furley
      February 18, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Not in SF it isn’t. It’s barely worth looking up from your iPhone.

      • Miles_Long
        February 18, 2016 at 10:10 pm

        Among civil people living in a civilized society, that is concidered an emergency worthy of the attention of the authorities. If you allow the inmates to run the asylum then everyone lives in misery.

      • DoYouEvenGameBro?
        February 18, 2016 at 11:14 pm

        Yes, it’s an emergency. No, it’s not best to get the police. Like the writer said, officers are not trained for this type of situation. She would have been scared, and likely fought back. Things would have escalated. She would’ve been injured and likely would not have gotten the type of help she needed. In fact, that’s probably exactly what happened.

      • zoe
        February 19, 2016 at 11:58 am

        She could also have escaped from somewhere or someone and been in dire need of help.

      • pailhead
        February 20, 2016 at 8:43 am

        What happened after 4 hours, when the emergency team showed up?

      • roy bot
        April 28, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Exactly, but in some circumstances they police may really need to be called (absolute last resort in most places, imo) – the problem then becomes _how_ the incident was called in.
        When I was sick and in crisis, people lied to the police, grossly exaggerating what happened because they thought it would help me get the help I needed more quickly (or just get locked away more surely). I had dropped a key at someone’s feet, they said I “threw a chunk of metal at them”. 5 minutes later the police came, and I nearly got shot while reaching for my ID.
        My point is ignorant, scared people can make the situation worse, part of why we need to work against the MH stigma and educate people better.

      • roy bot
        April 28, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        “Inmates”!? So, a mental health diagnosis is the same as a criminal conviction, then? Sounds like you need to do some reading, and examine your ethos.

        In a “civilized society”, the authorities would try to help sick people instead of just immediately using (lethal) force against them. If our society was so “civilized”, they’d rarely reach that point because we made sure they had proper care before they got there.

      • Miles_Long
        April 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        You are right, in a civilized socaity these people would be relegated to an actual insane asylum where they would be helped. But the ACLU argued against involuntary confinement and now they freely roam the streets.

        If you are criminally insane and not fit for society, yes you need to be locked away.

  6. Sadie Stone
    February 18, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Another possible resource, especially if it’s at night, is the San Francisco Night Ministry. They have trained clergy who walk the street every single night, and they also have trained crisis counselors available to call during the evening hours.

  7. Javier Acosta
    February 18, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    A hobo tripping on drugs is now “having a mental health crisis” God I hate liberals

    • CA-MD
      February 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      Wow, are you ever ignorant and insensitive. Please, feel free to come shadow for a day in the Emergency Department as see the mental health issues that homeless people face and the reality of homelessness, mental health, and drugs and the intersection between them. Maybe you’ll learn to actually find some empathy there too.

    • mathglot
      February 18, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      Wow, how very mean-spirited and self-righteous of you. Without knowing anything about the person involved, you’ve already condemned them.

      For one thing, people who make more money than you and are not using drugs can have breakdowns of various kinds in public. I have one friend who is an elite biz-school grad and is epileptic and may fall to the ground in convulsions on occasion, and another who sometimes becomes incapacitated by cluster headaches (go look it up). Either of them would need outside help from a stranger if they were unaccompanied at the time.

      As for your “tripping hobos” you do know that a lot of the homeless have diagnosed mental health problems, don’t you? Many of them may need to take maintenance doses of medication for life in order to remain stabilized, but that’s not always easy to do if you’re homeless. And yes, some of them are even taking illegal drugs and acting out on top of all the rest of the problems they have.

      If you want to condemn liberals for whatever your pet peeve is, why don’t you go find the right internet forum and go ahead and make your case in a cogent manner to your heart’s content. This article is about people having severe breakdowns in public for one reason or another in and who need immediate help, and what to do about it.

      How you get from a poor woman obviously out of control in public, to condemning liberals is beyond me. Where is your compassion? What would you do, just walk on by, not call anyone? What would you recommend other people do in that situation?

    • *9
      February 18, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Thanks! Coming from a self-absorbed n self-righteous a-hole like U, it’s a fine, if unintended, compliment! Now get on back to yer trailer boy!

      • Denny Smith
        February 20, 2016 at 1:51 am

        Javier, your Internet Coward’s Mask is no more convincing than all the other Internet Cowards, trying to find meaning in life by posting ugly remarks just to stir up anger. There really is meaning to be found in life; but you’re pursuing a dead end. Try using your heart and brain, Instead of this cynical, and tedious, “vomit-and-post” strategy.

      • *9
        February 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm

        Thanks for proving my point!

    • SteveZB
      February 18, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Man relax. Sometimes sh!t happens in a persons life and they don’t know how to deal with it or don’t have anyone they can turn to. Ain’t a liberal or conservative thing. Sometimes a person just needs help.

    • DoYouEvenGameBro?
      February 18, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      The first time my mother ran down the street naked she had been raped, beaten, and left for dead. All the times afterwards were nightmares/PTSD. Thanks for being one of those judgmental jerks who assumed she was on drugs.

    • Abrasax
      February 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

      You’re a piece of shit and probably a coward bitch with a mouth like that

  8. Erin
    February 18, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Thank you! This is the first response to the Justin letter that actually serves to move the dialogue to a helpful place. I wish I knew of EBay counterparts.

    • toofarinsideacar
      February 19, 2016 at 12:27 am

      some parts of the east bay do have an equivalent to the mobile crisis unit. Here are notes I took on the subject a few months back. (so I”m not swearing 100% accuracy):

      Alameda County Mobile Crisis Teams (MCTs)

      Berkeley and Alameda County crisis teams are made up of clinicians – for example, counselors or social workers – who typically show up with police(!!!). NOTE: It may be possible to request that the police show up around the corner or at a distance rather than coming straight to the scene. The MCTs are only available in certain location and at certain times. See below.

      In Downtown Oakland, South County, Fremont, Hayward, Dublin Pleasanton, Antioch…
      Hours: Vary depending on location. Phone line is 24/7.
      Phone: 1-800-309-2131 (Crisis Support Services) Operators/counselors can send out Mobile Crisis Team, if it is available at given time and place.

      In Berkeley or Albany…
      MCT delivers crisis intervention services at locations throughout the community (suicide, homicide, threats, drug abuse, evaluation for psychiatric hospitalization); consultation; and disaster and trauma-related mental health services.
      Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., 365 days per year
      Call: 1-800-309-2131 (Crisis Support Services) OR
      Call: 510-981-5254 (Leave message – call will be returned) OR
      Call Berkeley Police non-emergency dispatch, 510-981-5900, and specify that it is a mental health call and no one is in danger of violence.

    • Jason Albertson
      February 29, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      As a former supervisor with the Homeless Outreach Team, a social worker
      for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, now a Psychiatric
      Emergency Responmse Team member in San Mateo County, I do not agree with
      your suggestion that in the absence of the Mobile Crisis Treatment Team
      the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team should be contacted through
      311 to address the needs of individuals who are emotionally or
      behaviorally dysregulated.

      Let the HOT address homeless issues
      and assist people experiencing homelessness, not high end de-scalation
      and treatment support for disturbed individuals, who may or may not be
      homeless. The team is stretched thin, not qualified or resourced for
      crisis management and has demands on their time and effort that cannot
      support an additional service line.


      Jason M. Albertson, LCSW

      • pk
        April 23, 2016 at 6:49 pm

        Thanks for the feedback, but who do you recommend we call? Are you recommending to call the Homeless Outreach Team directly??

      • Jason Albertson
        April 24, 2016 at 10:51 am

        I suggest calling the Mobile Crisis Team. The Night Ministry is also a good choice. Concrn will grow its response capacity as well. Again, I do not suggest calling the Homeless Outreach Team for situations that do not involve homelessness versus need for crisis intervention. HOT is capacitated, trained, and equipped to manage homeless individuals and is not a crisis or descalation team. Let them keep their core mission of outreach, engagement, and support for homeless individuals without tasking them with an entirely new area of operations. If Mobile Crisis Team is not available, then resources in SF are limited to Night Ministry and SFPD and Concrn.

        It is not a bad idea to call Mobile Crisis the next day and describe the event, the person, and the resolution, especially if you have a name and birthdate. That way, if the person is developing a pattern they have them on, sort of, an expect list.

        Jason Albertson, LCSW

      • pk
        April 24, 2016 at 11:47 am

        Thanks so much for the detailed response. Valuable information.

      • Sugar Magnolia Edwards
        October 30, 2016 at 12:12 pm

        Good response, jason. Might wanna mention that it often takes hours for mobile crisis to show up, in the name of transparency. I suggest folks get to know the HOT team members assigned to your district. Each team, and each team member is very different.

      • Jason Albertson
        October 30, 2016 at 10:06 pm


        well that was a long time ago.

        I think that HOT shouldn’t be MH crisis responders though….for homeless people or otherwise, and that the MH crisis response is low and slow when it comes to Mobile Crisis, partly because of their outlook and what they see their service line as, and partly because its about a fifth the size of what it needs to be. I’d rather see us build a robust MH crisis response. We used to have the Crisis Resolution Team, or CRT–do you remember it? but it got taken apart in the early 2000’s, not sure why. Was a good response, under a woman named Grad Green based out at PES.

        Interestingly, San Diego has 23 licensed clinicians riding around in cop cars, doing MH crisis response, and LA has the M.H.E.U, the Mental Health Emergency Unit, which does something similar. Cop goes on a run for an emotionally disturbed person, or EDP as its called, can contact the MHEU for secondary9 response and a read from the dataset as to where that person gets MH services, even if that person gets them from a private hospital. I’ve been meaning to go down LA way for a ride-along–Lt. Charles Dempsey who runs the unit told me a while back I’d be welcome, but might have to be early next year.

        I’ll bring a book tomorrow you can borrow, focused on basic MH crisis response for law enforcement–its well written, although from the LE standpoint which of course is different from mine.

        But overall, I think that SFHOT line staff shouldn’t be taking on people who are dangerous to themselves or others, except to eval the person as reaching positive in those areas and then getting licensed folks who have the time, experience, and nothing else to do but stabilize the person. Its too risky, and people in crisis deserve a response that truly meets their needs rather than a swiss army knife thats got to move on to the next thing. I did a response-to-potential suicide in San Mateo w. Det. Jim, and it was a good thing dispatch didn’t care how long it took because it took 2.5 hours before we could even get into a safety contract discussion that mean’t anything and was at least 3.5 hours before we got out of there. We kept him out of a hospitalization that didn’t need to happen, but it took time, sensitivity, and a lot of work to have it come out that way….

        glad to be back tomorrow. Take care


      • Sugar Magnolia Edwards
        November 22, 2016 at 5:35 am

        I know mobile crisis is underfunded, understaffed. It’s not like I think they’re just lazy. As for folks becoming familiarized w/their local hot team members, I didn’t mean for mental health emergencies, but for helping connect folks to services to decrease the mental health emergencies, or b so that there is a plan in place for when they may occur. I remember CRT and wish they were still a thing. See you soon, comrade..

      • Jason Albertson
        November 25, 2016 at 9:48 am


        Well, going back to the CRT days, yes Grad Green, LCSW ran that shop for a long time and it was great, short term to mid term case management to connect people who came out of PES and in-pt admits. I ran around with her for a little while, and when an amiga of mine crashed and crashed hard behind mental health, trauma and heroin, she and her team really helped, got the gal into a bed at Tom Smith detox, where Rann worked and she got it together. Now we have City Wide linkage, and lots of times they get a client assigned who is on an inpatient unit, who gets discharged before they can meet or stabilize the person, and then its just wait till they cycle around again. Rinse, repeat as needed. And we have lots of people who are out of care because it doesn’t make sense to throw a bottle of tablets at them when they have nowhere to put themselves or the tablets. I remember when each mental health clinic had their own neighborhood based mobile crisis team–fantastic because they knew the community. The Ocean Merced Ingleside had lots of russian and mandarin speakers on it, the China Town North beach team had people who spoke Han chinese, Hakka, and other languages. And they knew their community in a way that is hard for the current Mobile Crisis. Its a good question–Mobile Crisis has gotten to specialize in a way the neighborhood teams were not able to, and the single point of responsibility is sometimes good, but I think there were benefits also from having the clinic workers in the field, getting known in the community. But underneath either option is what happens to mentally ill and behaviorally dysregulated people when the services and housing are not there any more…..

        care and see you in the field, compa.

        Jason Albertson, LCSW

  9. blackalaureate
    February 18, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    we need this all over the country. the police are not the answer.

  10. Monika Tippie
    February 18, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    This is a great list of similar resources in the East Bay

  11. toofarinsideacar
    February 19, 2016 at 12:07 am

    this isn’t an immediately available resource at this point but i’d suggest looking into Critical Resistance’s Oakland Power Projects. They recently put togetehr a workshop on this topic to help folks think abot alternatives and consider de-escalation skills.

    personally i dream of a non-police number to call for non-stigmatizing, non-punishing support + widely accessible and affordable peer-run crisis respite centers (look em up — they are rad) that folks could go to to “come down” or heal…dreams.

  12. Candace Aylor
    February 19, 2016 at 11:12 am
  13. February 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    This sort of thing really should be built into our first responder system. After all, 911 can get you the specific police or help you want for other emergencies; why not this more common one?

  14. Anthony Barreiro
    February 19, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    San Francisco 311 also has an app, available for ios and android. Making a report via the app is faster than calling 311, but you don’t get to talk to a live 311 operator.

  15. cupcake macfastlane
    February 19, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Beware! In 2006 I met a couple in a bar one night and invited them back to my place for a drink when the bars closed. The girl stayed for a beer then demanded to go home so the guy gave her the car keys and cut her loose. I really hit it of with the guy and we stayed up talking till the morning. The girl was pissed that he didn’t come home with her, she called the Mobile Crisis Team which invaded my apartment at eight in the morning. They waited until someone came out of the building and let themselves in past security. I was living in a big apartment with several other people on the third floor so we didn’t always lock the front door. I looked up to find two guys in lab coats standing in my bedroom doorway, there to do a welfare check. The girl had reported the guy as suicidal which I can assure you, based on several hours conversation, he was not. These crisis teams are not held back by the usual civil protections, like having to have a warrant to enter your home. They are just there to help, WTF.

  16. JD415
    February 19, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    You seem to have gone our of your way to include it–even using the clumsily politically correct phrase “African-American”– so I’d love to know why this woman’s race was relevant to the story.

    The common explanation when this happens is that it’s to “paint a picture” or something along those lines, yet I can’t help but notice that a detail like that isn’t included nearly as often when the story is about a white person.

    I’m sure some idiot is already preparing a mental draft of their response, wherein they rebut my accusations of racism, so let me make explicitly clear that I’m not calling anyone racist: I’m just wondering why that detail was relevant.

    • Abrasax
      February 20, 2016 at 9:44 am

      It’s for shock value and drama, part of the way black bodies are exotified and gawked at in a racist society. It wasn’t relevant to the story and a detail like that is almost never included when the story is about a white person.

      • Jan
        February 20, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        Is it possible it’s also there to underscore the danger this woman would have been in if the police were called? Like, considering how often African-Americans in crisis get shot by the police?

        Nah, better explanation is that the author of this piece is simply a racist shitbag. As am I, probably, for posting this comment.

      • Abrasax
        February 23, 2016 at 11:59 am

        Really you think that’s what the author’s intention was? So why didn’t he just come out and address that issue? Nope, that wasn’t clear from his writing at all and if you’re going to be an apologist for the racism of others at least come with a stronger debate.

      • Catherine Anderson
        February 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm

        Actually, he did….he just may not have phrased it as “cops are racist jerks.” Instead he more eloquently said “I knew for sure that I didn’t want to call the police…They are trained in ending crisis situations forcefully, but there isn’t enough training in how to deescalate them so that no one gets hurt or killed. While that is in the process of changing as we speak, I’d still rather involve people who already have the training.”

        This is an article about how to help the homeless and mentally ill community. If he had taken it there, it would have detracted from the simplicity and purpose of the article. You’re sitting here maligning someone who wanted to help the woman, who thoughtfully considered why he DIDN’T want to call the police, and who published an article to try and help the rest of us to help the unfortunate.

        Would you be this bothered if he had described her as a half naked Asian woman? Yes, racism exists. Yes, terrible things have been done to and said about minority communities. Yes, we all have a duty to stop such things from happening. However, labeling those who are actively trying to help as racists for describing a situation and not digressing from the topic at hand to racism is taking a step backwards.

      • Abrasax
        February 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Oh please. There was nothing and I mean nothing in his writing that covered police AND race. Not even subtly. Sure, he was clear about not wanting to call the police because ‘police brutality’, and he provided some useful info. Cool, kudos, bravo. That doesn’t change that he identified her as African-American without explaining how it was relevant to the story, transparently using it the way tons of authors use race when writing about people of color. Taking a step backwards? Taking a step backwards would be advocating for the homeless but making racist comments in the process. One good dead doesn’t absolve a bad one.

      • NunyadangbusinessDOS
        April 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        This is a case of PC going too far. If all that was taken away from the article was “the author shouldn’t have mentioned her race”, congratulations, you missed the entire point. Way to make it about YOU.

      • Abrasax
        April 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        Hmm… I can’t find in my comments above the part where I wrote,”the author shouldn’t have mentioned her race”, but I’m having trouble… maybe it was you who missed my point. So please illuminate me, IF you understood the blog post so well; what was the entire point?

      • pailhead
        February 24, 2016 at 6:39 am

        It seems like he was bothered by mere mention of race, nor which race it was. Gender, sure, it’s relevant to the story, could be the difference between that human being posing a physical threat (very large man) or not (petite woman), but what does race have to do with anything.

      • JD415
        March 2, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        I guess that could be true. Thing is, when the music stops and we’re all out of excuses and rationalizations (no matter how reasonable each of them might sound in isolation), we’re still left with the pretty plain truth that somehow race always gets mentioned more often when the person is non-white, even when their non-whiteness isn’t relevant to the story.

        I don’t think Stuart is a racist at all. Not even a little bit; I simply don’t know him or his character well enough to level a serious accusation like that at him.

        On the other hand, we’re all a little bit racist in the sense that we’re more susceptible to making generalizations and having emotional blind spots when it comes to the out-group, and here I think he somehow made her race, which stands out to him as a non-black person, relevant in a way that left me, a black person, scratching my head. I just can’t see why it was mentioned. Usually when someone mentions my race, their motive is, um, questionable, so those kind of things always stick out to me.

      • Abrasax
        March 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        THANK YOU 🙂

    • Jay101
      February 20, 2016 at 11:52 am

      So I’d love to know why this person’s gender was relevant to the story.

      So I’d love to know why this life form’s species was relevant to the story.

    • DayWalker
      February 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Yes, that totally jumped out for me as well. A naked, screaming woman tells me all I need to know.

    • April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

      I thought perhaps it was directly relevant as to why he didn’t want to call police, though he didn’t mention race in that decision – just the Maslow quote. But it certainly seems relevant in a police interaction context.

  17. Rebecca Zenola
    February 19, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    In Michigan, the University of Michigan hospital has a pscyh ER. You can even call and talk to someone for about 20 mins. That is in Ann Arbor. Safehouse is in Ypsilanti, it’s a domestic violence program with 24 hour call center. Women only. They have counselors who can talk about options.

  18. suzy
    February 19, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    this is great! thank you! I’m curious if there’s anything for us over in nyc, does anyone know of any extra resources?

  19. Mikey Burger
    February 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    anyone have simular resources for new york?

  20. February 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    The people best trained to deal with someone who might be a danger to themselves or others are the EMT’s: call 911. The fact is we have nowhere near enough properly trained people in our mental health system (if you can call it that) to deal with the NON-screaming people who need help. I’m personally more concerned witht the alarming increase in the number of people without feet and legs struggling to get around. We need housing designed with rehabilitation facilities, community kitchen, and supprtive services “built-in.”

  21. roy bot
    April 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Please consider not using the photo of the man on the street yelling, or at least cropping/blurring it so that his face isn’t recognizable. It doesn’t matter where it came from, you should practice what you preach (i.e.; compassion for the mentally ill). As it is, the fact that you’re using it discredits your position.

  22. AJACs
    May 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    From talking to 311/911directly, my understanding us that the very same folks answer both phone numbers. Calling one or the other just changes what queue you are sent to. If you are going to call one or the other, then if it is not a dangerous situation, then call 311, if it is dangerous or you are not sure and it might be, call 911.

  23. LKR1
    June 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Why would the race of this woman really matter? Did it add to the visual of the story or did it highlight an underlying motive behind the description? Makes someone like me just tune you out as just another race-baiter.

    • Trudy
      October 22, 2016 at 6:32 am

      Some police are less than the height of compassionate to black folks. Had you not heard?

  24. agillator
    October 21, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    911. They are the professionals who triage such calls and connect them with the appropriate available services. Before any other services are rendered a medical problem almost always needs to be ruled out.

  25. Joshua Redel
    October 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Also, don’t use the 311 app, as the Homeless Outreach Team will NEVER come to help if the app is used. Only the police will arrive.

  26. BouncyBrown
    January 11, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Just FYI, both the Mobile Crisis Team and 311 referred me to the police when I called them about someone having a nonviolent breakdown on my street this afternoon. They said there aren’t services to just go out and check on people.

  27. […] of organizations in your area you can contact for certain specific types of help. For instance, here are options for helping someone having a mental health crisis in San Francisco, and here are some options for […]

  28. Karen Elizabeth Huff
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Thank you for this really valuable information.

  29. Lindsey Hanson
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    I know what you think, but the police will almost always take people to PES at SFGH. MAP NEVER comes when we call them. I don’t like dealing with police either, but they have the ability to take people. MAP won’t come, 311 will most likely alert the police, or an ambulance, and most paramedics take people to MERs. (Medical Emergency Rooms) as opposed to Psychiatric Emergency Services, at General. I’ve worked in the field for 15 years, and I agree that it sucks, and I hate calling the police, but they are often the only ones who come. You can ask for an ambulance instead of police, when calling 911, but be sure to stick around and beg them to take the person for psych services, instead of medical services. You can also ask police/paramedics to take someone to DUCC if they’ve got beds. Hope that helps.

  30. Chromejob
    April 20, 2020 at 7:22 am

    “The police don’t have enough training in how to deescalate a crisis.” You should spend a few weeks doing ride-alongs and learn how uninformed you are.