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Mayor Bowser Highlights New Investments to Expand Community and School-Based Mental Health Supports

Friday, October 4, 2019
Mayor Bowser and mental health professionals

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted mental health investments to expand school-based mental health services to additional public and public charter schools and the new community response team (CRT), which will provide 24-hour services to residents experiencing psychiatric emergencies, trauma, or mental health and substance use disorders.

“We know that residents with behavioral health needs are living healthy, successful lives all across our city, but sometimes they need some extra support,” said Mayor Bowser. “By investing more in our Crisis Response Team and school-based services, we will be able to reach more residents in every ward, every week and provide the consistent and persistent engagement that we know it takes to get people connected to the right treatment and keep our communities safe and healthy.”

The community response team is comprised of social workers, community outreach workers, and peers with lived experience, who are trained to:

  • Conduct on the spot assessments and referral to behavioral health care
  • Engage regularly individuals living with unmet needs to encourage treatment
  • Connect to support services, including employment, education and economic benefit programs
  • Offer harm reduction options such as life-saving naloxone while promoting treatment
  • Support diversion from the criminal justice system for low level behavioral health related offenses

“The Community Response team reflects the Mayor’s vision that residents in all eight wards have easy to access to the care they need at school, at home or in the community. The team is available anytime during the day or night to respond to individuals in crisis and to support communities,” said Barbara J. Bazron, Ph.D., Director, Department of Behavioral Health.

In Fiscal Year 2020, Mayor Bowser increased her investment in Year Two of the School-Based Behavioral Health Expansion plan from $3 million to $9 million to support community based organizations who provide services. This additional investment will expand services to 119 public and public charter schools in School Year 2019-2020 (up from 52 schools in SY 18-19), which keeps the District on track to make behavioral services available to all students in all public and public charter schools within four years.

The community response team will work from two locations – 35 K Street, NE and the DBH emergency psychiatric care, known as the Comprehensive Psychiatric Program (CPEP), located on the grounds of the old DC General Hospital (1905 E Street, SE). The team was staffed by merging the Mobile Crisis Team, Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, and Homeless Outreach Program with additional staff trained to provide support for individuals with substance use disorders funded by the State Opioid Response Grant.

The Community Response Team is a key initiative in the District’s plan to reduce opioid misuse, use and opioid-related deaths. Opioid-related overdose deaths are preventable as the Community Response Team has shown and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner has reported the downward trend in opioid-related deaths in 2018.