City Mental Health Commission evaluates Mobile Crisis Response Subcommittee recommendations

Lisi Ludwig/Staff

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On Thursday, the city of Berkeley Mental Health Commission provided input on recommendations drafted by the Mobile Crisis Response Subcommittee, following several public comments stressing the need for an alternative to calling the police for mental health crises.

In September, the city launched a hotline designed for mental health services. This service, funded by the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, was formed as a resource to call during times of mental health crises.

According to Mental Health Commission Chair Boona Cheema, a subcommittee was formed to evaluate these mobile crisis delivery systems.

“The committee was formed four months ago to look at the current mobile crisis program and to come up with recommendations as to what the city of Berkeley and Albany really need,” Cheema said.

The draft was reviewed after a series of public comments requested alternatives to police response such as additional attention toward support groups, peer respite centers and nonemergency phone numbers.

The commission voted to provide a revised version of the recommendations in 10 days, after which the subcommittee may integrate the comments and submit a final draft to the Berkeley Division of Mental Health.

In the first draft of recommendations, the subcommittee advised the mobile response team on both staff qualifications and services. It calls for graduate-level mental health experts in health-related fields and for crisis response to be as effective as possible in coordination with police, hospitals and community organizations.

“We have already done a great deal of work towards designing the best crisis response program for Berkeley,” the draft stated. “The big piece missing is the evaluation of the current program.”

Contact Devaki Dikshit at [email protected] and follow them on Twitter at @DevakiDevay.