Healthy You Healthy Hennepin

Girl on phone

Hope from COPE

August 2015

Tamara knows the phone could ring anytime. She knows she could leave the COPE office in downtown Minneapolis and drive anywhere in Hennepin County. Everyone at COPE knows that. Mental health emergencies are never planned. Yet they happen. That’s why COPE exists. The service — which stands for “Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies” — is for adults experiencing mental health emergencies. A related service is available for children.

No one plans for a crisis. But then one happens. Be prepared by adding this number to your contact list, 612-596-1223.

1 in 4

people will develop

a mental illness

in a given year.

Imagine it’s late at night. A spouse is worried. Her husband has been suffering from depression, and now he’s talking about suicide. She realizes he stopped taking prescribed medications and isn’t acting or thinking like he normally does. This is a crisis. She calls COPE.

Tamara answers and immediately begins assessing the situation. First she talks to the spouse and then the husband. It’s clear a face-to-face conversation is called for, and that’s one of the things that makes COPE unique. It’s not just a telephone service. COPE teams are mobile and can respond to a crisis in person 24/7/365.

women talking with cope brochures
Phone on table
Cope brochures


Since 2006 when COPE began, incoming calls and team visits have quadrupled and now average more than 1, 000 each month. Roughly a third relate to suicidal acts. COPE works closely with law enforcement and other emergency responders as the situation requires, and two-person COPE teams typically respond to calls.

What does it take to be a COPE team member? Compassion. Respect. Dedication. Advanced training and education. The group includes clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and more. The goal is always the same — to help people stay safely in their homes, jobs, schools and communities.

“We respond to a diverse range of cases in the community,” Tamara notes. “But COPE isn’t an entry level job. Most members of the team have a Master’s level of education and additional licensure and credentials. The diversity and experience of our staff is an aspect that makes us effective in the work that we do.”

Tamara and her colleagues emphasize that COPE does not replace 911. A person climbing over a bridge or balcony railing, for instance, is in immediate physical danger. The number to call is 911.

The focus for COPE is adults experiencing mental health emergencies. In addition to telephone assessment and face-to-face crisis response, COPE can arrange for continued support for up to 30 days and make referrals to residential care. It’s available for adults 18 or older in Hennepin County. For mental health emergencies involving children, the number is 612-348-2233.

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