HUDSON — The Columbia County Board of Supervisors approved $175,000 in funding to maintain the county Mobile Crisis Assessment Team.
The Mobile Crisis Assessment Team works to assess people and connect them with appropriate services with three main goals: avoid hospitalization, minimize police intervention and link crisis callers to long-term service providers in the community.
The team operated under the auspices of the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties, Inc. Greene County will also fund the program with $175,000, according to a statement from the Board of Supervisors.
Funding for the team was previously provided through New York State but was discontinued at the end of 2021, according to the statement. Columbia
County’s portion of the team’s funding comes through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act.
The team has served 6,115 individuals since its beginning in 2015, team director Katherine Oldakowski said in a statement. That amount includes 3,059 individuals from Columbia County and 3,056 individuals from Greene County.
“Over 94,000 phone calls in and out of mobile crisis – part of that number is case management,” Oldakowski said. “We’ve been dispatched just about 4,000 times for in-person assessments. We maintain a 93% diversion rate from unnecessary hospitalization. We maintain a 99% diversion rate from further police intervention.”
The team includes a mix of licensed professionals and paraprofessionals with a full-time staff of six people and about 20 total staff members, according to the Board of Supervisors.
The team is not just about responding to people who have mental health issues, Columbia County Mental Health Center Director of Community Services/Department Head Dan Almasi said. It is also about responding at a significant rate to people with substance abuse issues.
“Most people that seek behavioral health services, either mental health or substance abuse services, anywhere between 40% and 80% have a co-occurring disorder,” Almasi said in a statement. “If they’re seeking help for mental health services, chances are they have a substance abuse problem, and vice versa.”
The team works to link a crisis client with mental health and other services. The team then follows up with them to support their attendance through their next two appointments with providers in order to help increase their emotional stability post-crisis, according to its website. The team runs a three-pronged system of response: crisis prevention, crisis intervention and crisis follow-up.
“I have to give a lot of credit to county leaders on both sides of the river,” Almasi said. “In our case, Chairman Matt Murell and the supervisors were very agreeable to funding MCAT. The counties have stepped up – they recognize the value it provides to their residents.”
The Mobile Crisis Assessment Team telephone number is 518-943-5555. The line is staffed 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.