Mental Health Co-Responder Program
In October 2020, the Bexar County Office of Criminal Justice/Department of Behavioral Health entered into an agreement with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) for a Mental Health Co-Responder Program.
Directed by the County and administered by STRAC, the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART ) is a collaborative effort with local Law Enforcement, Acadian Ambulance, and the Center for Healthcare Services (CHCS). This program is aimed at addressing 9-1-1 mental health related calls more effectively by responding with a trained multidisciplinary team to divert individuals experiencing a mental health crisis away from jail and emergency departments and instead to the least restrictive treatment environment. SMART members will be trained to use the highest standards of best practice de-escalation tactics to reduce and prevent use of force.
Each Team will be comprised of a licensed mental health professional (as defined by Texas Health and Human Services (HHS)), a peer support specialist (as defined by HHS), qualified mental health professional (as defined by HHS), specially trained mental health law enforcement officer, and a paramedic. Triage criteria will be developed to identify 9-1-1 mental health related calls in order to dispatch a Team to respond. The target population is individuals experiencing a mental health crisis that are otherwise non-violent and in need of access to treatment.
Bexar County will provide the funding to STRAC to contract with the service providers under this Agreement. STRAC will work with the service providers to select the individuals that will comprise the initial Team. The initial Team will operate Monday - Friday during high call volume times. STRAC will assess appropriate staffing and roles during the initial phase and expand services, staffing, and operations times as needed.
CHCS will provide the clinical services for the Team by providing crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques during the initial scene call. CHCS will also provide follow-up care as outlined below. Other services offered by the CHCS team include and are not limited to:
- Recovery Planning
- Psychosocial Rehab Services (Individual and/or Group)
- Skills Training and Development (Individual and/or Group)
- Medication Training and Support (Individual and/or Group)
- Routine Case Management
- Case Coordination
- Peer Support
- Community referrals
- Crisis Services
- Other clinical interventions as assigned
- Case Transfers
- Discharge Planning
Acadian Ambulance will offer the medical component of the team to ensure individuals are medically stable before releasing the individual or transporting the individual to a treatment facility.
Law enforcement will offer scene safety as well as last resort options of completing emergency detentions as needed.
The initial phase of this program started on Monday, October 5, 2020.