This brief presents an overview of mobile crisis teams (MCTs) and provides tips for ensuring their success.
MCTs are tasked to respond to a crisis with the training and ability to directly administer medication, refer people in crisis to additional treatment, connect people with crisis care, and give follow-up support. They can provide on-the-scene crisis assistance, but only after first responders have de-escalated or confirmed that a situation is not an emergency. After being called by either first responders, dispatchers, or a mental health agency, MCTs will usually conduct a follow-up with individuals within 48 hours, either in person or by telephone. MCTs have benefitted law enforcement agencies by enabling officers to focus on emergency situations that involve crimes or public safety issues, while relying on MCTs to respond to emergencies that require mental health or drug treatment resources. In addition, MCTs save jurisdictions money by reducing hospital admissions and criminal justice processing that may lead to the incarceration of people with mental health needs or substance-use disorders. Tips for ensuring a successful MCT are summarized for these actions: 1) developing cross-system partnerships; 2) providing cross-system training; 3) identifying and sharing data across systems; and 4) ensuring that the team has direct access to care. An example of the development of an effective MCT is provided for the Village of Orland Park Police Department (Illinois) under a grant from the federal Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. Access is provided to online help from the Center for Justice and Mental Health Partnerships in starting or improving an MCT.