A pilot program in Long Beach is now using trained mental health professionals to respond to people in crisis in certain areas of the city.

The Health and Human Services Department announced the launch of the Community Crisis Response Team during a news conference Monday, but the program began on July 12.

The five-person team will respond to calls for service where mental health support, health education and resource navigation are better suited.

The team will respond to calls from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends in West Long Beach and along the Anaheim corridor, officials explained.

The locations were selected using data from dispatch calls in 2020 and 2021, which revealed an increased need in those areas.

The team responds to calls involving a mental health crisis, suicidal callers, public intoxication, an unwelcome person, welfare checks and disturbances, officials said.

The team will not respond, however, to any calls involving a person who is showing violent behavior, is armed with a weapon, is experiencing a medical emergency, is threatening or at imminent risk of hurting themselves or others, or if the person may have committed a crime.

Residents can’t request the crisis team directly but are encouraged to call the non-emergency line at 562-435-6711. This line is answered by the city’s communications center and relevant calls will be routed to the crisis team during operating hours.

The team can also be requested as an additional resource by responding police officers or firefighters where they determine the situation merits it.

An example would be if people at or near a call for service may benefit from speaking to someone about an unsettling or traumatic experience they witnessed, like a death.

The crisis team offers:

  • Crisis intervention support
  • De-escalation
  • General health education
  • Suicide assessment and intervention
  • Items for basic needs (hygiene, clothing, nutrition supplements
  • Triage to people requiring minimal medical aid
  • Transportation to appropriate resources including mental health urgent cares, housing services, among others. (Officials say these services will begin later in the fall)
  • Resource navigation and referral support for services

“The CCR pilot is part of the City’s Racial Equity and Reconciliation Initiative, grounded in a vision where race and ethnicity alone do not determine social and economic outcomes for those who live and work in Long Beach,” officials explained.

“This initiative marks a significant step towards better serving individuals in mental health crises while also easing the burden on our emergency response services,” Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson said. “Together, we are creating a path that prioritizes community health and safety through compassionate, health-based approaches.”

The program is funded by the Long Beach Recovery Act, which addresses economic and public health initiatives for residents, workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of $3.6 million was allocated from the Recovery Act to support Long Beach’s violence prevention and safe cities programs.