- Program was developed in partnership with community leaders to create more alternatives to calling law enforcement and to increase access to mental health and crisis services.
- Program will address needs through a racial equity and social justice lens.
- Mental Health Services Act Innovation funding will be used to support the program.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department’s new Community Mobile Response (CMR) Program will be significantly expanding community-based mental health and crisis response services through a nearly $28M investment approved yesterday. The expanded program uses a model where community residents, mental health workers, and emergency medical services providers respond to needs and crises in the community, ensuring more individuals and families have access to mental health and crisis services. On April 20, 2021, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the funding for this program using Mental Health Services Act funds, and the state granted its approval for the funding of this program yesterday.
The launch of the new program follows a community engagement and program development process initiated in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and other recent events that have heightened longstanding concerns related to law enforcement interactions with communities of color and segments of the community that have been unserved, underserved, or inappropriately served. These communities often find interacting with law enforcement to be a frightening, distressing, and potentially life-threatening experience, and may hesitate to request services if law enforcement will be involved. The newly expanded Community Mobile Response Program is designed to reduce the need for calls to law enforcement, allowing incidents and needs to be effectively and quickly addressed in community and before they escalate.
The expanded services were developed in collaboration with the local Mental Health Service Act stakeholder leadership committee, which is comprised of a diverse group of leaders in the community. Also instrumental to the development of this program were community-based organizations and behavioral health service providers working directly with those who will be served through this new program. The County Behavioral Health Services Department, along with these partners, has been exploring expansion of services to address community needs and expand alternatives to calls to law enforcement. Although Santa Clara County previously developed a strong and effective mental health crisis response system, community members have expressed concerns that the current crisis response teams require the inclusion of law enforcement. The new CMR teams will respond to calls for service without law enforcement, and as part of their initial assessment will determine if there is a need for law enforcement involvement. The program will address community needs through a race equity and social justice lens.
The CMR program will help individuals experiencing experience a mental health event or crisis by conducting on-site assessments for medical and/or behavioral health needs to minimize and prevent further escalation of the crisis. The CMR program will also work in close partnership with other teams and programs, such as the County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the existing Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT), and the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT). Key components of the program include:
- Family involvement: encouraging client’s family or a client’s support person in all aspects of the process, based on a client’s preference.
- A focus on prevention.
- A new 3-digit community phoneline that is not 911 or 311.
- Trauma-informed mobile response vehicles.
- Community Collaborators to obtain feedback from the community on the project and build a mechanism to receive continuous feedback to improve the project.
- Program staffing by individuals from the community, prioritizing linguistically and culturally informed staff with relevant lived experiences.
The program will be operational 24/7, 365 days a year, and will be launched in three general areas (San Jose, Gilroy, and North County) on January 1, 2022. According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the social vulnerability index for Santa Clara County shows the highest level of vulnerability is concentrated in San Jose and in Gilroy. If the initial pilot program is successful, services will be expanded to other areas in the future.