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Sharing Behavioral Health Information: Tips and Strategies for Police-Mental Health Collaborations

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2019
2 pages
This brief provides guidance for police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs) in sharing agency behavioral health information on individuals.
As the value of PMHCs in communities has evolved, the benefits of sharing behavioral health information on individuals have been recognized, with the provision that this practice comply with federal regulations for both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and 42 C.F.R. Part 2, which governs privacy for substance use disorder patients. This brief presents strategies that communities can use to share behavioral health information legally and safely for the purpose of improving outcomes for people with mental health issues. Based on the experiences of many jurisdictions that have developed strategies for appropriate information sharing through PMHCs, this brief outlines the following lessons: 1) Effective collaboration builds on cooperation and trust between agencies; 2) It is possible to share mental health information legally; 3) Remember the principle of sharing the minimum necessary health information for effective treatment of the individual; 4) Think about engaging people experienced in strategies for sharing health information on individuals. Suggestions are also provided for collaborative strategies between police and mental health agencies in developing health information-sharing policy and procedures. Guidance is also provided for state policymakers in addressing this issue.