County Expands Mental Health "Crisis Response" Services for Young People


SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today took action to expand Mobile Crisis Response Team services for young people between 16 and 24 years old. The County will provide increased services for young adults by contract with Pacific Clinics, cross-train the County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) to serve 16 to 24-year-olds, and roll out a new app to better serve young people and their families.

At the request of County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Chair of the County’s Health and Hospital Committee, staff presented the Board with a $2 million plan to expand mobile crisis programming for young people as part of Simitian’s proposal to extend the County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team program to the North County and West Valley.

“These past two years have been challenging for all of us, but they have been especially challenging for young people who are facing a mental health crisis,” Simitian said. “When their parents reach out for help we have to respond quickly and connect them with the care their children need.”

In Santa Clara County, Mobile Crisis Response Teams provide an essential service to people who have mental illness or substance use disorders. Clinicians, accompanied by law enforcement for on-the-scene safety, act as the primary providers to evaluate those experiencing a mental health emergency. Last year, the County’s MCRT program received almost 5,000 calls for service – 1,600 more than in 2020 and nearly 3,800 more than in 2019.

The Board approved a $2 million agreement to support the expansion of mobile crisis services through 2025. Funding will be allocated to the County’s Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) from a State grant.

Services will be expanded to specifically target the transitional age population (people between 16 and 24), an age group that often experiences a disconnect in the transition to adulthood. Funding will be used to cross-train mobile crisis teams on effective crisis intervention strategies and train families to recognize and respond to early signs of a crisis.

“What I really like about this approach,” observed Simitian, “is that we’re building on success. We’re growing two programs that have already been doing this work for years; but now providing the cross-training necessary to support this particularly vulnerable 16 to 24-year-old age group.”

Funding will also be used to develop and implement a data system to track real-time interventions, follow-up care, and treatment provided; a hotline that can be employed by the crisis teams; and a mobile app that offers families real-time updates on the status of help during a crisis. The app would also allow a mobile crisis team already deployed into the field to go to the next crisis location without returning to home base, thereby improving response times to crises occurring outside of Central and South San Jose. Simitian has repeatedly stressed that, “Response times are key. A crisis can’t wait. A crisis is now.”

As part of the agreement, the County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team will be cross trained to help individuals in crisis between 16 and 24 years old. And a pre-existing contract with Pacific Clinics (formerly named Uplift Family Services), the current provider of mobile response services in Santa Clara County for teens through age 17, will be expanded to include the provision of services to youth up to age 21 through their Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) program.

“This is an opportunity to expand Pacific Clinics’ trauma-informed mobile response services to fulfill a critical need to serve our communities’ transitional age youth,” said Don Taylor, Bay Area Regional Executive Director of Pacific Clinics. “When young people are in crisis, our team does everything they can to safely resolve the crisis, connect them with continued resources to establish stability and bring recovery and support to their families.”

The  Behavioral Health Services Department launched its Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) program for adults and older adults in 2018. Staffed by licensed clinicians, the program provides round-the-clock community crisis response services, as well as crisis screening and intervention, connection to treatment and resources, and 5150 mental health holds. 

“With increasing demand for mobile crisis services to help young people and their families, it is essential to provide our Mobile Crisis Response Team the training they need to respond to families in crisis,” said Sherri Terao, Director of Behavioral Health Services. “We are also proud to partner with Pacific Clinics and provide them with more resources to expand their services to help young adults.”

Today’s action follows the Board’s unanimous support in February of Simitian’s motion to establish a dedicated Mobile Crisis Response Team in the North County and West Valley. That expansion creates a dedicated unit to serve residents in the County’s northern and western cities amid a mental health crisis made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simitian has pushed a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the mental health and wellness of young people, including:

  • The County’s partnership with allcove, an innovative effort aimed at making early behavioral health care accessible and approachable for kids and teens in Santa Clara County;
  • The development of an adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit located at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, allowing kids to receive acute mental health medical care close to home, near their families and regular health care providers; and,
  • Development of a “teen Mental Health First Aid” program (tMHFA) to teach high school students to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse concerns, with training provided by Momentum for Health in partnership with Project Safety Net.



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