Santa Cruz County has launched a Mobile Emergency Response Team for Youth in south county to provide field-based crisis intervention services to residents 21 years and younger.

The response team, referred to as MERTY, uses a state grant to staff the mobile clinic with a bilingual clinician, a bilingual family support partner and many other “culturally responsive and clinically appropriate services” to the community, county spokesperson Jason Hoppin said.

It also aims to remove barriers, provide easily accessible, high-quality care and provide links to additional services.

“MERTY reduces the need for transportation or office space by providing field-based urgent response coupled with a confidential meeting space inside the behavioral health mobile office,” said Cassandra Eslami, south county services and community engagement director.

Eslami emphasized that resources like MERTY are a priority, “now more than ever” because the pandemic and subsequent isolation has negatively impacted a lot of youth.

The county’s Behavioral Health Director Erik Riera echoed the sentiment and noted many in the county are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

“We want you to call, and we want to help,” Riera said. “Please consider reaching out to us.”

The county has two MERTYs that have the ability to support all youth in Santa Cruz County.

MERTY can provide services at safe sites like schools and other community settings like after-school programs and faith-based organizations.

To request MERTY services, call 1-800-952-2335 any weekday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.