Devereux Florida partners with Orange County Sheriff’s Office to launch Behavioral Response Unit
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Florida recently teamed up with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to form a new six-person Behavioral Response Unit to better support youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis.
How it works: When the sheriff’s office receives a crisis call, a Devereux Florida clinician and a sheriff’s deputy respond with the goal of deescalating the situation; potentially facilitating connections to community resources; developing individualized treatment plans; and ensuring each person’s needs are met.
“Devereux Florida has experience providing mobile crisis services to individuals up to age 24, and we saw this as an incredible opportunity to serve more people in the community,” said Devereux Florida Clinician Christin Edwards-Salinas. “Our goal is to prevent individuals from experiencing any future crisis. We engage with them, determine their needs and then connect them with programs and services in the community, including substance abuse treatment programs, outpatient mental health services, intensive residential treatment programs or other specialized services.”
Orange County Sheriff John Mina noted that every year, on average, the sheriff’s office responds to approximately 8,000 calls for service of people experiencing a mental health crisis.
“Even though our deputies are trained in crisis intervention, many times, they do not have the necessary tools and resources to help these individuals,” Mina explained. “A mental health clinician is in a better position to calm those in crisis, and get them the services and support they need. This is what they are trained to do.”
Supporting youth, adults in need
Before the launch of the Behavioral Response Unit, the clinicians and sheriff’s deputies participated in 40 hours of specialized training on how to deescalate situations and arrive at peaceful resolutions.
The deputy-clinician teams spend their work shifts monitoring and responding to calls related to mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse issues. Patrol deputies initially responding to calls for service will ensure the scene is safe for the Behavioral Response Unit teams, and may request this support on-demand.
“This pilot program was a year in the making,” said Orange County Maj. Carlos Torres. “Not only did we conduct academic research to determine what would work best for our community, but I also traveled to California and Miami, Fla., to observe law enforcement and mental health professionals working seamlessly to create the best treatment plan for an individual in crisis. As we developed our own program, we wanted our clinical team to understand what law enforcement does on a daily basis, and we wanted our law enforcement team to understand the role of clinicians. We knew this would help them in the field.”
Building a strong partnership
Edwards-Salinas said the deputy-clinician teams have built a strong partnership, combining their skillsets to better serve youth and adults in crisis.
“This has been an excellent collaboration,” Edwards-Salinas shared. “We are working toward to the same goal – to help these individuals resolve whatever crisis they are experiencing so they can safely remain in their homes, schools or communities.”
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