Improving Crisis Response

Over the past several months we have been focusing on a number of efforts to improve how we respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. In July we convened representatives from law enforcement, education, health, behavioral health (staff and providers), family members and others to discuss how we can better coordinate our existing efforts, identify gaps in our system, and figure ways to improve. It was really encouraging to see the high level of motivation among all the participants to continue working on these issues. We are currently collecting information from the participants and will be reconvening in the Fall.

On Monday I will be going, along with two police chiefs, assistant sheriff, deputy county manager, Louise Rogers (deputy chief/health system), Kacy Carr and Paul Sorbo to Monterey County to meet with representatives from law enforcement and behavioral health to learn about what they have been doing over the past 4-5 years to boost their crisis response capacity and improve outcomes. I expect we will hear some very informative and helpful things that we can then consider as we continue to look for ways to improve.

Also, Suzanne Aubrey, Mary Taylor Fullerton with technical assistance from Perneille Gutschick have drafted a “script” and tips for family member if/when they need to call 911 for assistance with a loved one. The intent is to improve communication and minimize any misinterpretations between the caller (family member) and receiver (dispatch) so that the appropriate field response occurs. We will soon be meeting with dispatch to finalize the script. (The script will be interpreted in a number of languages) Once it is finalized we will begin a marketing/outreach effort to get this information to as many people as possible. We will provide the information on easy to post cards, refrigerator magnets etc. Also we will want to make sure that as  part of an intake process we make these materials available. NAMI will also be helpful in the distribution. Please send me ideas you have on how to get this widely distributed.

At the end of the day we need to do everything we can to ensure that those individuals experiencing a mental health crisis will receive the most appropriate response and that they their loved ones, the responders and the community are safe.


  • We have a great team working on this project and it’s exciting to be a part of it! It’s looking to be a very helpful resource for families and friends of people with behavioral health issues. We could use ideas from the community as to how to help distribute this valuable information: websites, brochures, schools… please feel free to share your ideas!
    Thanks, Mary Taylor Fullerton, BHRS Program Specialist

  • I am excited about the development of the Guidelines and Script when calling 911 for a Mental Health Emergency. We’ve had lots of input, including representatives from the BHRS Office of Consumer and Family Affairs, NAMI San Mateo County and clinical providers….next step is to send it to 911 dispatch and then we’ll be able to get it to families and friends of persons with mental health challenges….and also to the greater community! Suzanne Aubry