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Intercept 0: Community Services

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Intercept 0 encompasses the early intervention points for people with mental and substance use disorders prior to being charged for an offense by law enforcement.

Intercept 0 Overview

  • Connects people who have mental and substance use disorders with services before they come into contact with the criminal justice system.
  • Supports law enforcement in responding to both public safety emergencies and mental health crises.
  • Enables diversion to treatment before an arrest takes place.
  • Reduces pressure on resources at local emergency departments and inpatient psychiatric beds/units for urgent but less acute mental health needs.

Key Elements for Diversion at Intercept 0

  • Warm lines and hotlines can serve as alternatives to 911. They link people to clinical treatment providers and services without the involvement of law enforcement. This allows emergency response agencies to direct their resources to other needs in the community.
  • Mobile crisis outreach teams allow behavioral health clinicians to respond to people in crisis in the community. In situations involving a public safety concern, a behavioral health practitioner may accompany law enforcement. Mobile crisis teams can stabilize a person in crisis, identify underlying reasons for the person’s symptoms (for example, the person stopped taking medication), and initiate or link the person to case management services. Mobile crisis teams can also reconnect an individual with mental and substance use disorders to case managers or treatment providers who have already worked with them.
  • Law enforcement-friendly crisis services. Instead of arresting people in crisis or bringing them to a hospital emergency department, law enforcement officers can bring them to locations such as stabilization units, crisis living rooms, or respite centers. Processes that allow quick and simple drop-offs make this diversion option more effective.
  • Peer-operated crisis response support and/or respite is provided by people with lived experience with a mental or substance use disorder. They may also have been involved in the justice system. Peers can provide helpful information and support that is shaped by their own experience to help people with a mental or substance use disorder. Programs run by peers and services employing peers have shown promising results in helping people recover.
  • Substance use-focused early diversion strategies. Self-referral programs, active outreach, and opioid response teams are showing promising outcomes in reducing substance use, overdoses, and fatalities due to overdose. These strategies rely on partners from different fields, such as behavioral health providers, emergency medical services and fire departments, law enforcement, prosecutors, and public defenders (where applicable), working together to provide life-saving treatments and support.

Local Examples at Intercept 0

  • Bexar County Center for Health Care Services (TX)
    The Center for Health Care Services has a 24-hour Crisis Helpline that can send out a Mobile Crisis Outreach Team if needed. The Center has a 16-bed Crisis Care Center for people who need outpatient services. The Center provides observation and care for up to 48 hours to people who walk in or are dropped off by law enforcement. The Josephine Recovery Center is a 32-bed detoxification and behavioral health stabilization unit. Both are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc. (MCES) (PA)
    This a pre- and post-booking diversion program. It provides crisis intervention, mobile crisis response teams, telephone hotlines, referral to treatment, law enforcement training, and community education programs.
  • Clermont County Quick Response Teams (OH)
    Quick Response Teams work with people who have had an opioid overdose and their families. The teams work to get the person and his or her family connected with services and engaged with treatment. The teams include law enforcement, first responders, and treatment providers.
  • Mental Health Association Keya House (NE)
    This is a peer-operated respite center. It allows adults in mental health or substance use crisis to stay for up to 5 days. It also operates a warm line staffed by Peer Specialists. The line can be called 24 hour a day, 7 days a week.

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