Mental Health Unit (MHU)

The Sanford Police Mental Health Unit (MHU) co-response team with Community Outreach Officers is a law enforcement-based program that pairs mental health professionals with officers dedicated to responding to people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and/or are experiencing unstable housing.

These calls for service are among the most complex and time-consuming for law enforcement. By dedicating a specialized unit, the department has seen a reduction in repeated calls for service, minimized the strain on resources, but most importantly connected people with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders to services that better fit their needs, rather than repeated criminal referrals into the criminal justice system.

Officers have a greater awareness of community resources allowing them to connect consumers to treatment, services, and other supports.


Substance Use Disorders treatment options:

Mental Health Services and Hotlines:   

  • Non-emergency mental health providers:
  • Maine Behavioral: Health 207.324.1500, 474 Main St, Springvale, ME.
  • Sweetser: (Mental Health Services) 800.434.3000, 863 Main Street, Sanford, ME.
  • Mental Health First Responder Shannon Bentley:
Non-emergency Hotlines:

  • Teen Text-line: Ages 13-24, 12PM-10PM, 1-207-515-8398
  • 211: Phone or Website to find statewide mental health services.
  • Intentional Warmline: 1.866.771.9276: Talk with a trained peer support specialist who has personal experience with mental health recovery.
  • Crisis Line: 1.888.568.1112: For psychiatric intervention and assistance with a Mental Health Crisis and when Self-harm has not occurred and/or is not imminent. When staffing is available they have a mobile crisis team that can respond to the residence, which often times is less stressful then traveling to the emergency room.

  •  911:
    1. Self-harm has occurred or is imminent.
    2. A person is having a mental health crisis and presents a danger to another has occurred or is imminent.
Goals of the Sanford Police MHU:

  1. Increased use of crisis services: With an improved ability to identify mental health crisis, when appropriate, officers are more likely to divert individuals from the criminal justice system to crisis services.
  2. More referrals to appropriate behavioral health services: The MHU has become acquainted with mental health services in their community and more often provide a referral or even transport to treatment.
  3. Increased continuity of healthcare: Police-mental health collaborations result in ongoing community-based treatment solutions that enable the individual to remain stable.
  4.  Fewer repeat calls for service (CFS): When individuals are connected to mental healthcare services, they are less likely to call 911 themselves or to be the subjects of repeat complaints.
  5. Reduction in time spent on mental health calls: When diversion services or receiving centers are in place, officers are able to resume patrol duties in a significantly shorter time.