The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) hosted a conversation this week entitled How to Keep Young People of Color Safe Through Mobile Response. Experts from Connecticut and Oklahoma discussed the success of mobile response services in their state. The panelists underscored that mobile response services are an investment in de-criminalizing mental health, and a powerful step towards diverting juvenile justice involvement and institutionalizing police-free mental health services.
The mobile response unit in Oklahoma features a localized call center that connects with systems of care in 77 counties. The community-based services have strong coordination with clinicians, educators, and parents. When fielding a call, the center’s primary goal is to de-escalate the situation and connect the patient with services. Oklahoma’s mobile response program has realized a 90% success rate in getting youth back into the classroom and a 78% diversion rate from a change in placement for youth–indicators of the widespread success of the program.
Connecticut has seen similar success, fielding over 12,000 episodes of care in FY 2019 with a 30-minute average response time to these crises. The large volume of patients who utilize Connecticut’s mobile response services is partly due to a widespread awareness campaign about calling the number “211” instead of 911 in the case of a mental health emergency. Since the program’s creation, court referrals have decreased by 33%, speaking to the success of mobile response services in diverting youth from the juvenile justice system.
The panelists offered advice for other states looking to implement mobile response programs,
most notably emphasizing the importance of creating community-based programs, with measures such as offering services in multiple languages and integrating the services into schools, emergency medical systems, and community programs. Read CLASP’s report on mobile response services here: https://www.clasp.org/publications/report/brief/youth-mobile-response-services-investment-decriminalize-mental-health.