Police respond to medical emergencies all the time. If you’ve been the victim of a crime or suffered an accident, you know that police will protect your personal health information. But if you call emergency services because of a mental health need, the same rules don’t apply. Police may decide to release your health information when you apply for a job, volunteer position, or even school placement.
The exceptional discretion by police to disclose information results in discrimination against persons with mental illness. Their police record can follow them for decades. We shouldn’t penalize people who reach out for crisis help. Emergency services should be available to all without fear of life-long consequences and stigmatization.