In September, Austin City Council passed its 2020 budget, with several provisions aimed at improving services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The budget includes new funding commitments for Integral Care’s Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT), mental health clinicians embedded at the 911 call center, additional mental health training for 911 dispatchers, a telehealth tool for first responders, and a staffing increase for Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Community Health Paramedics. These programs have already shown promise in improving crisis systems in our community.
EMCOT, which is jointly supported by the City of Austin (60% of funding) and Travis County (40% of funding), co-responds with law enforcement and EMS to divert individuals from emergency departments, arrest, involuntary commitments, and jail. Since the inception of the program in 2013, EMCOT has served 7,214 individuals and provided training for 1,500 law enforcement officers, EMS, and school resource officers.
City funding will also continue Integral Care’s successful telehealth pilot with Austin Police Department, helping to ensure access to care for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. If first responders recognize that an individual is having a mental health crisis, they can offer a telehealth option, allowing individuals to connect with a trained clinician to provide support. Clients who choose telehealth can speak with MCOT staff via iPad. Staff then provide assessment and triage, assist with safety planning, and link them to community resources such as the Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care or crisis residential care.
Starting in December, EMCOT team members will be stationed at the 911 Call Center, where mental health calls will be transferred by 911 call takers to EMCOT. This means quicker assessment and triage of a person’s situation and the level of care they need. Under the city’s new budget, EMCOT will add 4 full-time clinicians.
Integral Care appreciates our longstanding city and county collaboration to improve crisis services for all in our community