In the behavioral health sphere, for years we’ve been asking how we can make our neighborhoods safer for all. Specifically, we’ve been looking for ways to address the rising behavioral health needs by working with law enforcement to appropriately address mental health crises.
Now, we’re excited to announce that our Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT) launched a pilot program with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office to embed a clinician with law enforcement officer for mental health-related calls.
This means that when a mental health dispatch code comes through, a clinician and their law enforcement counterpart will respond to the call together. From there, the mental health professional will attempt to de-escalate the situation and to understand the individual’s underlying needs.
In the first week alone, we had nearly 50 contacts, or an average of nearly seven contacts a day. Anyone can experience a crisis, and with this program, we can work to ensure that we’re meeting people where they’re at. Read on to learn more about the project’s goals:
- Break the “three-contact cycle.” On average, law enforcement agencies in our communities have three contacts with an individual believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis before they end up in jail or the local emergency department for possible involuntary mental health treatment. Our goal is to intervene as close to the first touchpoint – if not during the initial contact – as possible to assess the situation and begin to look into next steps for providing care.
- Build collaborative, community-first relationships. By working with forward-thinking departments such as the Skagit County Sherriff’s Office, we can create a unified front that serves the whole county, extending out to rural areas that might be underserved by traditional response systems. This allows us to maintain a proactive approach to supporting the community.
- Reinforce our mission of whole person health. We believe in aligning care for both mental and physical health needs, and that the impact of this mission is reinforced through our partnerships. This approach will allow us to promote positive change and truly make a difference for those in need.
Learn more about our partnerships in recent media coverage:
- Skagit Valley Herald: Sheriff’s Office adds mental health clinicians
- An interview with KSVR: Mental Health Clinicians Riding with Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputies