Montgomery County Awarded SAMHSA Grant to Expand Mobile Crisis Outreach; Will Support Rapid Intervention Services to Individuals Facing Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

by Patrick Herron
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Per Montgomery County:

For Immediate Release: Friday, August 13, 2021

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand crisis intervention services for persons experiencing a mental illness or substance use disorder.  The two-year grant will provide support for Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT) to meet the overwhelming need for these services. It will also expand the health assessments that clients are offered at the Crisis Center. Over the two years, the value of the grant will be $3,748,064.

“Our goal is to provide safe, effective crisis care that diverts people in distress from emergency departments and jail by expanding the continuum of crisis care services that match people’s clinical needs and connect them to services that will prevent future crises.  This funding will help us dramatically scale-up our mobile crisis response capabilities and allow us to deescalate a situation and immediately begin a health-based response to safely deal with the underlying cause of the crisis,” said County Executive Marc Elrich.

DHHS’ Crisis Center is available 24/7 by telephone or walk-in for Montgomery County residents experiencing a mental health and/or substance use related crisis.  The Crisis Center provides 24/7 telephone and walk-in services that are culturally appropriate, and they provide person- and family-centered behavioral health care services.  Currently, there is one MCOT team in the county.  It is estimated that it would take more than six additional MCOT teams to address the estimated needs of who experience a behavioral health or substance use crisis and are currently not served or are underserved.

The SAMHSA grant will allow DHHS to expand the number of MCOTs as the most efficient and effective way to reach more than 25,000 residents who need behavioral health crisis services annually.  It is estimated that with three new teams from this grant, the Crisis Clinic MCOTS will serve more than 8,500 unduplicated individuals in a two-year period. The added teams themselves will engage in more than 500 unduplicated crisis interventions in first year of the grant funding and more than 900 crisis interventions in the second year of the grant funding.  The critical incident response will serve more than 100 individuals over a two-year period. In addition, the Crisis Clinic will treat more than 9,500 walk-ins will during the two-year grant funding period.

The goals and measurable objectives of the project are:

  • Increase the number of behavioral health or substance use crisis intervention requests responded to by the MCOTs by 80 percent;
  • Increase the number of clients who receive health assessments and infectious disease testing and vaccinations;
  • Maintain contact with, monitor, and refer 50 percent more crisis clients to ensure they end up in a safe and appropriate service environment or recover from the crisis; and
  • Increase the number of crisis clients diverted from admission to emergency departments and correctional facilities by 10 percent.

Peer-support is a key component of the County’s strategy as the lived experience of recovery from mental illness and/or addiction is powerful proof that there is hope for individuals in crisis.  Other evidence-based practices to be used by the MCOTs and the Crisis Center to address the complex needs of individuals during a mental health or substance use crisis include:

  • Critical Incident Stress Debriefing;
  • Family Psychoeducation;
  • Motivational Interviewing; and
  • Solution-Focused Therapy.

For more information about the County’s Crisis Center and the MCOT, visit DHHS’s website.

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