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Supervisors Vote to Expand LA County Mental Health Crisis Response Teams

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn speaks Monday, Oct. 26, at a news conference announcing a year-long pilot program that puts mental health response vans at five L.A. City Fire stations throughout the county. (Photo: Bryan Chan, Los Angeles County)

County will use new Federal funding to increase number of teams and expand program to 24/7

Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a proposal by Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to expand the county’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team (PMRT) program.

LA County’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams are teams of unarmed mental health professionals who respond directly to a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

Currently, 25 Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams operate across the county during normal business hours between 8am and 5pm and 12 teams operate between the hours of 5pm and 2am and on weekends. 

The average response time is often 2 hours and the teams are not available to respond between the hours of 2am and 8am – limiting their ability to be a viable alternative to law enforcement.

Mental health crises aren’t a nine-to-five problem and our solution can’t be either,” said Supervisor Hahn, who authored the motion. “Too often, armed law enforcement or ambulances become the de facto response to people experiencing mental health crises. If we want our Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams to be a viable and effective alternative to calling the police, they need to be available 24/7 and there need to be enough teams to respond to every crisis quickly.”

The motion authored by Supervisor Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Barger does two important things to expand the County’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team network.

  1. First, it asks the County to develop a plan to expand Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams to be available 24/7 before 2022. 
  2. Second, it asks the County for a plan to use new federal funding available through the American Rescue Plan to expand and improve the Psychiatric Mobile Response Team network to respond to crises across the county more quickly. 

When a community member is in crisis, ensuring they receive timely, effective care is crucial,” Supervisor Barger said. “By expanding Los Angeles County’s response to meet serious mental health crises 24/7, our Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams can help patients get treatment where and when they need it most.”

The effort to expand these teams comes just one year before the first nationwide mental health crisis hotline, 9-8-8, launches in Summer 2022.  Dialing 9-8-8 will be an alternative to 9-1-1 and will connect people with the Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams when necessary.

A plan to expand the Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams to 24/7 is due back to the board in 60 days.