Supervisor Lawson-Remer Approves $4.5 Million for Successful Mental Health Program

News Date

SAN DIEGO (SEPTEMBER 26, 2023) –  Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors today voted to accept nearly $4.5 million to continue expanding a successful program that helps individuals deal with mental health or drug addiction crises. The additional money for the County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) program will come from a grant the County won in a successful application to the federal government. 

“People are looking for answers to the mental health and drug addiction problems on our streets, and today we voted  to continue providing care to people in crisis, one of the most proven solutions our region has,” said Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “This is a big win for San Diego residents because the County was able to successfully bring home millions of dollars from the federal government. We’ll keep fighting for more resources to invest in programs that work.”

The MCRT program provides a non-law enforcement response to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis, instead relying on professional clinicians to provide services. MCRTs divert individuals experiencing a crisis from unnecessary law enforcement involvement by stabilizing the client in the field and, if appropriate, connecting the client to the right level of behavioral health care. 

The response teams are composed of licensed mental health clinicians, case managers, and peer support specialists who can respond to behavioral health crisis calls that do not involve known threats of violence or medical emergencies. These teams provide assessments, de-escalation, and, if needed, will connect, and transport the individual to appropriate services such as counseling, case management, and substance use treatment services. MCRT services are available countywide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serve individuals of all ages.

County staff expects to use $3.36 million of the grant in the current fiscal year and $1.12 million in fiscal year 2024-25 to enhance Mobile Crisis Response Teams services offered through contracted community-based providers. The money comes from one-time Congressional Directive Spending grant funds, which are administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

From January 2021 through July 2023, MCRT has responded to over 6,500 calls made through the San Diego Access and Crisis Line (1-888-724-7240) and referrals from law enforcement agencies. Countywide call volumes have steadily increased throughout the duration of the program, requiring additional resources to support optimal oversight and meaningful client outcomes. 

Of the calls MCRT has responded to, an estimated 51 percent of individuals were stabilized in the field and provided with referrals to ongoing care without the need for additional transport, thus reducing the need for law enforcement services and utilization of more expensive, acute services. 

To read more about the funds, click here.