Santa Clara County Supervisors have voted to expand the Mobile Crisis Response Team in the North County and West Valley.

The team provides essential services to people who need mental health or substance abuse support. Social workers and behavioral health professionals connect those experiencing mental health emergencies with medical or social services, instead of deploying police officers.

According to the county, the team received nearly 5,000 calls for service last year, which was 1,600 more than 2020 and nearly 3,800 more than in 2019. The program has been limited due to geographical challenges, they said, so expanding to the North County and West Valley will take pressure off other areas of the county.

There has been a 13 percent increase in individuals accessing the county’s behavioral health system since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a county spokesperson said.

The current mental health crisis has also affected police officers. The American Psychological Association estimates that at least 20 percent of police calls for service involve mental health or substance abuse issues, according to county officials.

Katy St. Clair, Bay City News

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.