In May we celebrated the launch of our Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT) program at the “I’d Call 988” Event. Spreading awareness about the MCOT program and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was the shared goal of those in attendance. We were pleased to welcome community leaders and public officials to the event. Congressman Tony Cardenas, Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, and Amanda Ruiz, MD, Acting Sr. Deputy Director, Intensive Care Division DMH, all spoke at the event – voicing their strong belief in the importance of this life-saving program to our communities.
Sycamores President & CEO Debra Manners and Sycamores Chief Program Officer Dr. Jana Lord also addressed the group and shared a brief video about Sycamores’ MCOT program.
For individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, accessing the right help can make all the difference, and calling 988 is the best way to get immediate help in a mental health emergency. 988 calls are answered by a trained, third-party counselor who determines the best course of action. When the situation requires immediate, in-person attention, Sycamores teams of compassionate professionals meet individuals at their location to provide additional assessment, safety plans, and support.
The national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline debuted July 16, 2022, and Sycamores and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health have partnered with this lifeline to provide in-person emergency mental health services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis via Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams. Sycamores’ teams, consisting of Licensed Mental Health Professionals and Peer Support Specialists, have been responding to calls throughout most of Los Angeles County – including metro and south Los Angeles, and the San Fernando, San Gabriel, and Antelope Valleys – since October 2022.
Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams work to de-escalate mental health crisis situations and avoid hospitalization and law enforcement involvement whenever possible. In the video presentation, Sycamores President & CEO Debra Manners said, “It’s important that if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it’s not criminalized. Right? You’re not handcuffed and put in the back of a car, or you’re not handcuffed and put in an ambulance. We’ve all seen the videos of what happens when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis and you call the law enforcement.”
Sycamores Chief Program Officer, Dr. Jana Lord, explained how Peer Support staff – someone who has personal, lived experience with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, law enforcement, etc. – help, “They know what kind of care they would want for themselves and their loved one to receive. Once individuals come into our care you can be sure that our team will treat everyone like family, with dignity and respect.”
During the first six months of the program, 323 individuals in crisis have been served by Sycamores MCOT, with 76% being stabilized within the community (using a safety plan and linkages to mental health services) and not requiring hospitalization. Dr. Lord stated, “Our Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams are undoubtedly saving lives, every day.”
We are grateful for the support from Congressman Cardenas, Mayor Bass and Supervisor Horvath. Congressman Cardenas was an early sponsor and tireless supporter of the federal legislation that created the 988 Suicide & Criss Lifeline. Dr. Lord praised his continued commitment to bring necessary resources to our state and the Los Angeles region to strengthen the infrastructure of the entire 988 network.
Congressman Cardenas, Mayor Bass, and Supervisor Horvath have all taken the “I’d Call 988” pledge and we invite you to take the pledge too. Show your support by creating a video or post to share on social media with the Sycamores’ “I’d Call 988” gif and using the #IdCall988 hashtag. (Click here to download the “I’d Call 988” gif .)
Calling 988 if you are someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis may be the most important call you will ever make. Let’s all do our part to raise awareness about this life-saving program.