By Nathan Fletcher
Everyone knows someone in their life who has been affected by mental health injury or addiction.
Maybe it’s a close relative like a sister, cousin or parent. It might be a co-worker who suffers from anxiety. A veteran who returned from war with post-traumatic stress. Or, the unsheltered person on the street having an episodic breakdown.
For those of us who see these folks suffering, it is difficult. It has not always been clear what the best way is to help them. But now we have a solution. Mobile Crisis Response Teams are a better way to meet their needs.
I introduced using Mobile Crisis Response Teams countywide in 2020 as a way to deliver a non-law enforcement response to people suffering a mental health crisis. Mobile Crisis Response Teams rely on trained clinical professionals and peer support specialists to respond and de-escalate situations that do not involve threats of violence.
Just over a year ago the Mobile Crisis Response Teams began responding to calls from our access and crisis line: (888) 724-7240. We gradually phased in teams countywide and since December the program has been fully operational with 16 teams spread out across the county.
The early results are very encouraging. Since February of last year, more than 672 clients have been referred to MCRT, including 51 referrals from the National City and Chula Vista Police Departments. Because of Mobile Crisis Response Teams:
112 individuals have been linked to treatment services. These people were not connected to treatment behavioral health services previously.
47% of referrals the Mobile Crisis Response Teams have responded to has resulted in the individual being able to remain in the community, without the need for law enforcement or more acute services.
Approximately 20% of referrals responded to are individuals who are homeless
We are pleased with the direction things are headed, but there is more work to do. Along the way we will make adjustments as we learn more about the way we’re implementing it.
Right now, teams are primarily deployed through calls made to the County’s Access and Crisis Line. We are also getting referrals from the 911 systems of Chula Vista and National City. One area we still have some work to do is finalizing an agreement with the nine other 911 dispatch systems. Once that happens, we expect 911 referrals will increase.
Mobile Crisis Response Teams are about delivering the right services, at the right time, in the right setting. They make sure a person in crisis receives the care and compassion they need not just for the moment, but in the long-term.
Mobile Crisis Response Teams change a person’s entry point into a system of health, and changes their trajectory moving forward.
Over time, we want to reduce the number of people who get to a state of crisis, and the way you do that is by engaging people in community care and other services.
If you encounter someone suffering a mental health crisis, please dial our access and crisis line at (888) 724-7240. Visit tinyurl.com/56b7bsaj for more information.
If you need to contact my office, please call us at (619) 531-5544 or email email@example.com and follow me on social media. To invite me or my team to your organization’s meeting, request a proclamation or grant, and learn about the work we’re doing, visit SupervisorNathanFletcher.com.
— Nathan Fletcher is the San Diego County Supervisor representing the Fourth Supervisorial District, and he serves as Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.