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Supervisors Expand Mobile Crisis Teams to Treat Mental Health and Dug Abuse



San Diego County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to expand the countywide Mobile Crisis Response Team initiative as an alternative to treat people with mental health or substance abuse issues.

Rather than relying on traditional law enforcement, the MCRT concept dispatches behavioral health experts to emergency calls when it is appropriate. Sixteen mobile crisis teams will be available across the county beginning Wednesday.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told the board that having sheriff’s deputies respond to behavioral health situations isn’t always in the county’s or the victim’s best interest.

“Instead of sending law enforcement to assist someone having a mental health episode, we now have teams of mental health clinicians, case managers, and peer support advocates,” he said. “In a short period of time, MCRTs are proving to be a success, but as the program continues to roll out we will make adjustments and efficiencies to ensure we’re continuously making progress with helping our residents.”  

Since being launched several months ago, the MCRT has responded to 268 calls, with 30% of those being taken to a crisis stabilization unit, and 45% being connected to community services, according to Fletcher’s office.

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