WACO, Texas – A mental health call in a China Spring neighborhood lasted up to twelve hours – forcing police officers to call an MHMR Crisis Team for backup.

Dr. Lee Carter is the owner of Cen-Tex Psychological Services, and has been in practice close to 40 years.

“I and police officers deal with the same people, just from a different perspective. We often use the same techniques,” Carter said.

Carter shares the main techniques when dealing with a person in a mental heath crisis, “You don’t want to do anything that’s going to rile the person, or make them even more angry,” Carter said. “You try to defuse the situation to the degree you can – which means going slow often times, letting the person talk and letting them feel heard.”

Carter says the only difference between him and police officers is they have to bring a resolution to the situation at hand – peacefully or by force.

Woodway Public Safety Captain Khalil El-Halabi says police officers respond to mental health calls differently, depending on the information given.

“If they are going through a mental health crisis, we actually have great partnership with MHMR through MCOT,” El- Halabi said. “It’s in their name – ‘Mobile Crisis Outreach Team’ – and they will actually come to the scene.”

El-Halabi says if a person is suicidal, they use a different approach – an Emergency Detention Order tool.

“We have the ability to take custody of the individual and take them to a local hospital,” El-Halabi said. “At that time, a mental health professional will sit with them and speak with them and see their needs.”

El-Halabi says the main thing they express to people going through a crisis is they are there to help them.

“I know the uniform doesn’t scream ‘Talk to me.’ The uniform doesn’t scream ‘Approach me.’ But we are servants,” El- Halabi said. “We have servants’ hearts, and we yearn to assist you. And we want you to come to us.”

El-Halabi says Woodway Police officers are mental health-certified to better understand what people are going through.

“To the degree we can encourage these people to seek help before their life collapses, that’s always the best option,” Carter said.

If you or someone you know is dealing with mental help, you can reach out to the Heart of Texas Region MHMR.