County ex­ec­u­tive pro­poses ex­pan­sion of the county’s men­tal health cri­sis sys­tem

The Avenue News - - EDITORIAL -

Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Don Mohler an­nounced plans to sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand the County’s emer­gency men­tal health sys­tem by fund­ing overnight hours for the Mo­bile Cri­sis Team that re­sponds to in­di­vid­u­als ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis, in­clud­ing those ad­dicted to opi­oids.

The Bal­ti­more County Cri­sis Re­sponse Sys­tem, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween the County’s Health and Po­lice De­part­ments, works with The Af­fil­i­ated Sante’ Group, Inc. to pro­vide emer­gency men­tal health ser­vices to Bal­ti­more County res­i­dents. The Mo­bile Cri­sis Team is cur­rently avail­able from 9:30 a.m. un­til 1 a.m. daily. The in­creased fund­ing of $561,000, con­tin­gent on County Coun­cil ap­proval, will bring the Mo­bile Cri­sis Team bud­get to $2.6 mil­lion and will help ex­pand their ser­vices to 24 hours per day.

“Our Mo­bile Cri­sis Team pro­vides a vi­tal ser­vice to peo­ple in their most vul­ner­a­ble mo­ments; by pair­ing a men­tal health clin­i­cian with a po­lice of­fi­cer, they are able to re­spond in a way that deesca­lates sit­u­a­tions, pro­tect­ing both the in­di­vid­ual and over­all pub­lic safety,” Mohler said. “If ap­proved by the Coun­cil, we will en­sure that County res­i­dents who need these ser­vices through­out the night will now have ac­cess to them.”

“The in­crease in fund­ing will mean an ex­pan­sion in ser­vice hours, and hav­ing these ser­vices avail­able around the clock is price­less,” said Di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch.

The Mo­bile Cri­sis Team re­sponds to se­vere be­hav­ioral health emer­gen­cies in the com­mu­nity, with the goals of di­vert­ing res­i­dents from un­nec­es­sary hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and/or en­try into the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, and re­duc­ing the num­ber of emer­gency pe­ti­tions. The team pro­vided 2,343 in­ter­ven­tions to County res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies in fis­cal year 2018.

“This fund­ing will al­low con­stant cov­er­age through­out the County to pro­vide a re­source to pa­trol of­fi­cers deal­ing with those suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues,” said Chief of Po­lice Ter­rence Sheri­dan. “Hope­fully, this will con­tinue our trend of peace­fully re­solv­ing in­ci­dents in­volv­ing in­di­vid­u­als in cri­sis.”

“The Mo­bile Cri­sis Team has been a tremen­dous as­set to the com­mu­nity and I sup­port the ex­pan­sion of their avail­abil­ity into the overnight hours, when many in­ci­dents take place,” said County Coun­cil Chair Ju­lian Jones.

“Men­tal health crises don’t start in the morn­ing and end at night,” con­cluded Mohler. “We have to take care of those in need.”

Fa­cil­i­tat­ing Ac­cess to Men­tal Health Care

An­other strength of the Mo­bile Cri­sis Team is that they help peo­ple take full ad­van­tage of the dy­namic ma­trix of ser­vices in place to link County res­i­dents to pre­ven­ta­tive care op­tions.

For more in­for­ma­tion on men­tal health ser­vices of­fered in Bal­ti­more County, call the Bal­ti­more County Depart­ment of Health at 410-887-3828. To ac­cess emer­gency men­tal health ser­vices, call the 24-hour Mo­bile Cri­sis Team hot­line at 410-931-2214.

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