Buckelew Programs plays a key role in planning and leading the mobile inRESPONSE Mental Health Support Team launched by the Santa Rosa Police Department in January 2022. The inRESPONSE Team answers calls for mental health, substance use and housing crises that often come through 911 or community line calls. The team, which rides in a van bearing a logo distinct from law enforcement, includes a licensed clinician, firefighter paramedic and engagement specialist. With a mental-health-first approach, they bring resources to people in crisis while diverting cases from police, jails and hospitals.
The team conducts assessments and follow-ups with system navigators who connect vulnerable individuals to resources and services such as housing, therapy, medication appointments and other critical support. Buckelew’s Family Service Coordination (FSC) program staff also provides post-intervention wraparound services.
The inRESPONSE Team is a compassionate model for communities, providing housing, mental/physical health interventions, and follow-up that make a measurable difference for a vulnerable individual. The inRESPONSE navigators are often the bridge to service providers, particularly those with language barriers.
In just the first quarter of operation, the inRESPONSE Team responded to 500 service calls that in the past would have been routed directly to the Santa Rosa Police. From these service calls—often made by loved ones or concerned community members—120 individuals received direct support from the inRESPONSE System Navigators. Subsequently, the system navigation team made an additional 600 connections for follow-up care and services for these 120 individuals – providing them with both immediate support and a continuum of care. The program has since expanded, now operating two mobile units, with plans to extend the seven-day per week (90 hours/week per van) operation to 24/7.
Here are some examples of those in our community helped by the inRESPONSE Team.
A concerned community member called inREPONSE about their elderly neighbor, a woman in her mid-seventies who was in serious mental health distress. Upon arrival, the team’s assessment revealed she was experiencing extreme anxiety and although she has a complex health history, there were no clear physical health symptoms. The inRESPONSE mental health clinician worked with Cecile to help her calm her anxiety and taught her tools she could use independently. The team also helped Cecile devise a safety plan with manageable steps to avoid a crisis. Cecile assured the inRESPONSE Team that she felt safe with the plan the team helped her create.
The following day, the inRESPONSE navigator checked in with Cecile. Cecile was clearly experiencing additional issues related to her complex health history. The navigator encouraged her to go to the emergency room for care and accompanied her to provide emotional support and serve as an advocate. Cecile was admitted to the hospital, treated and prescribed new medications. Cecile avoided a health crisis.
A man in his mid-fifties was often seen on the streets in Santa Rosa. In the past, he didn’t engage with service providers offering support, including the inRESPONSE Team, when they first reached out in January. But that didn’t prevent the mobile team from talking to him and asking how he was doing and whether he’d like food and other services, such as a warm place to sleep. On each occasion, he declined offers of help. Then, recently, he agreed to accept food. The mobile team continued to engage and gain his trust. Now, he’s been connected with Catholic Charities for housing and provided services for mental health and substance use challenges.
A father called 911 when his 19-year-old daughter, Julia, was experiencing mental health and substance use challenges. Her behaviors in the home were unsafe for her and others, including her siblings. The inRESPONSE Team assessment revealed that Julia had a history of substance use, including recent heavy usage. Previously, Julia’s parents tried to find a detox treatment center for her but either couldn’t afford it or find one with availability. In addition, Julia was both scared and unwilling to engage in treatment. The inRESPONSE Team helped identify an affordable detox center with availability and encouraged Julia to engage in treatment. The navigator also arranged transportation to the facility, which was located hours from their community.
Eduardo is a young man in his mid-twenties who lives with his parents because of his mental health and developmental challenges. Sometimes, when Eduardo experiences frustration, he becomes angry and acts out, making him a danger to himself and those around him. Eduardo’s parents are monolingual Spanish and struggle to know what to do for their son. A language barrier is often an obstacle for them to access accurate information and resources.
When Eduardo’s behaviors became unsafe recently, his parents called the Santa Rosa police, who arrived on-site along with the inRESPONSE Team, with whom they work collaboratively. The inRESPONSE Spanish-speaking staff conducted an initial assessment of Eduardo and worked in coordination with the police officers who knew the family from previous visits to their home. Together, the team discussed options with Eduardo’s parents and provided a referral to Buckelew’s FSC program. FSC’s bilingual navigator empowered Eduardo’s family by teaching them how to access resources, become effective advocates, and support an adult living with developmental differences and serious mental illness. They also encouraged Eduardo’s parents to call inRESPONSE directly if Eduardo began demonstrating unsafe behaviors in the future.
When Eduardo threatened to hurt himself again soon after inRESPONSE Team’s first visit, his parents called inRESPONSE to get him admitted into emergency psychiatric care. Eduardo is home and receiving treatment to help to stabilize his health. FSC and inRESPONSE connected Eduardo and his parents to myriad services that provide Eduardo with wraparound care and services to understand his illness.
These are just some of the individuals in our community that the inRESPONSE Team helps to avoid crises and connect with the critical services they need.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis in Santa Rosa, you can call the inRESPONSE Mental Health Support Team directly at 707-575-HELP (4357). The team response van is available 7 days a week, Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. The system navigators are available Monday to Friday from 8 to 5 p.m.
Names have been changed to protect privacy.