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Free mental health crisis resources in Utah, other than 911

In Utah, there is a group trained specifically to respond to mental health crises, and they are available 24/7. (KUTV)
In Utah, there is a group trained specifically to respond to mental health crises, and they are available 24/7. (KUTV)
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In a crisis, 911 may not always be the best number to call. While first responders are trained in dealing with mental health situations, it's not their number one focus.

"They're really being asked to respond to too much that's not within their immediate scope and training skill set,” said Rachel Lucynski, the business operations manager for UNI Community Crisis and Support Services.

In Utah, there is a group trained specifically for those situations, and they are available 24/7.

Instead of police, you could call a mobile crisis outreach team, or MCOT. The teams are under UNI, the University Neuropsychiatric Institute, and the University of Utah.

"It's actually pretty common that law enforcement will call us and say, 'hey there's a challenge with mental health issues on our scene, can someone from MCOT come help support and correspond,'" Lucynski said.

They are essentially a mental health ambulance without lights and sirens. The teams respond in person to de-escalate a crisis and provide support.

The mental health professionals said one of their biggest challenges in providing help is that not enough people know about them.

MCOT teams are made up of two people, a masters level clinician and a certified peer support specialist who has lived through their own experiences with mental health challenges. Teams respond in unmarked cars and respond without law enforcement 80 to 85 percent of the time. Police will assist if there is an active threat of violence on the scene.

"What we really try to do is a coordinated dual response, where MCOT will go together with law enforcement and provide guidance and recommendations to help de-escalate the situation." Lucynski said.

She said they are working to better coordinate their services with law enforcement, "so that mental health calls come to our team, where we are highly trained professionals who are specialized in mental health."

We're really looking to be discreet, to help de-escalate the crisis, to provide assessments, and then refer people to the right level of ongoing resources and support they need."

MCOT professionals are available across Utah, at no cost, and are available for a broad range of calls: suicide prevention, extreme emotional crisis, or less severe instances of struggling or feeling overwhelmed.

Response times depend on availability, but their response average over the past three months was under 20 minutes.

They are also available to help virtually with crisis assessments, de-escalation or intervening in a situation, as well as providing referrals and coordination of care.

Lucynski said almost all of their calls end with the situation resolved, and with the person staying in their own home, avoiding stressful and costly trips to the hospital.

MCOT responds to around 300 calls a month, and the need is growing. Lucynski said to keep up, they need more teams, more funding, and more people to know they are there to help.

Come 2021, there may be an even easier way to get help. "988" was recently approved at the national level to be the number for mental health responses. Once that is set up, that number will connect you directly to the UNI crisis center.

Additional resources

Utah Crisis Line, in association with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Call 24/7 to speak to a licensed crisis counselor if you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, are experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis, or are feeling overwhelmed and need support.
  • For callers with a non-Utah area code, dial the local number: 801-587-3000.

Utah Warm Line: 833-SPEAKUT (833-773-2588 toll free) / 801-587-1055 (local)

  • Open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call to speak with a certified peer support specialist.
  • This service is for people who are not in crisis, but seeking emotional support, engagement, or encouragement. Certified peer specialists offer support and empower callers to resolve problems by fostering a sense of hope, dignity, and self-respect.
  • Resource for people who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, isolated, or like they just need someone to talk to.

Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT)

  • Triaged and dispatched through the Utah Statewide Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255, teams are available for dispatch in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, and Utah counties, and the southwest region of Utah, including St. George and surrounding cities. Additional rural teams were created this past legislative session through the passage of House Bill 32.
  • Due to COVID-19, crisis counselors on the CrisisLine will ask health screening questions to determine if an in-person or telehealth response is most beneficial. MCOT staff may wear the CDC’s recommended universal precautions to include goggles, masks, gloves, and gowns to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and health care workforce.

SafeUT (Crisis Chat and School Safety Tip app)

  • The SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line is a statewide service that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth (public K-12 and higher education) through live chat and a confidential tip program – right from your smartphone.)
  • Licensed crisis counselors are available 24/7 to respond to all incoming chats, tips, and calls by providing supportive or crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and referral services.
  • Support is also available to parents and educators of students in public K-12 and higher education.
  • Free and available for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store.

SafeUTNG (Crisis Chat and Safety Tip app for Utah’s Army and Air National Guard service members, family members, and personnel)

  • As an extension of SafeUT, the SafeUTNG app provides a safe and confidential platform to communicate with a licensed crisis counselor 24/7. Users can text, submit a tip, or call to receive support.
  • The app is operated and managed by the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) in partnership with the Utah National Guard.
  • Licensed mental health professionals can assist with a variety of issues including: emotional crisis, grief and loss, drug and alcohol issues, mental health issues, self-harm, suicide prevention, and safety concerns.
  • Free and available for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store

Live On – Utah’s statewide suicide prevention and awareness campaign at

  • A consolidated location for support, resources, giving/receiving help, and events to stay informed and involved.
  • Focused on a “Mantra of Hope: Live On is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing our culture around suicide and mental health. Together we can get through, reach out, lift up, look ahead, and Live On.”
  • Follow them on all social media platforms @liveonutah
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988: The future 3-digit nationwide number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Working with the FCC to be implemented and available to the public by July 2022, this 3-digit number will allow for easier access to mental health services for people experiencing challenges and crises.
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