Mobile Crisis Team coming to Lewis and Clark County

Posted at 4:47 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 18:47:54-04

HELENA — Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) and St. Peter’s Health (SPH) are partnering for a Mobile Crisis Response Team.

The unit will allow for a behavioral health specialist to respond alongside law enforcement to assess individuals in crisis for mental health or substance abuse.

The specialist will be trained in crisis intervention and de-escalation, with the goal of reducing emergency room and detention center admission.

“100 community members on average visit our emergency department each month due to a behavioral health crisis. For many people, this is the safest place for them at that moment. Still, for others, it isn’t, and we can best deliver the care they need in the field or the home with a behavioral health specialist on-site,” said Inpatient Senior Nursing Director Kari Parmer, RN.

The Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s Office and the Helena Police Department praised the new unit, and say they’re looking forward to having a mental health professionals assistance on calls.

“Over the past 20 years law enforcement has been the primary responders to individuals in mental health crisis. The number of calls of this type continue to increase, while resources have decreased,” said Helena Chief of Police Steve Hagen. “Mobile CRT will put those in mental health crisis in contact with mental health professionals better equipped to help them through the crisis, returning officers to patrol duties. The Officers of the Helena Police Department are excited to work closely with the Mobile CRT to provide those in crisis immediate and long-term mental health services.”

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton adds, “We are excited to have trained mental health professionals who are able to respond with peace officer and provide appropriate care. Over the last 30 years, we have struggled to find a community wide base of support. This CRT is a result of cooperation and collaboration of people who care about behavioral health services. Behavioral health encompasses both mental illness and substance abuse disorders, which are prevalent in every community; it’s how the community responds that make the difference. We are proud to be part of the team.”

The contract for the Mobile Crisis Response Team will go before the Board of County Commissioners on Thursday Aug. 27

Funding for the Mobile CRT comes from two grant sources totaling $470,000. The contract between LCPH and SPH will run until June 30, 2021, and then be evaluated for renewal. Current funds will be used for start-up and core operation of a mobile crisis vehicle, staffing and Telepsych services.