Mental Health First Response in Bexar County (SMART)

In October 2020, Bexar County implemented new ways in which members of our community can seek mental health support through our first responder infrastructure. This specialized response is organized, coordinated, and executed under the name Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team or S.M.A.R.T. and serves the area of unincorporated Bexar County and the 26 suburban cities.

Directed by the County and administered by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) a new mental health co-responder program has been created. Law enforcement, paramedics, and mental health professionals are joining in the effort to address 9-1-1 calls that indicate a mental health need.

Signs with positive phrases on a fence surrounded by greenery.Photo by Dan Meyers                           

Bexar County pursues several goals with the implementation of this approach:

  • Make clinical resources available during the initial response to a mental health situation.
  • Provide assistance to meet the needs of a person in crisis.
  • Minimize the potential for escalation and the risks associated with such an escalation for all parties involved.
  • Avoid arrest and incarceration in a jail when possible.
  • Provide follow-up and aftercare for individuals needing mental health services who call for emergency assistance.
  • Ensure the service continuum is maintained to maximize the chance for a positive long-term outcome.

The focus lies on individuals experiencing a mental health crisis who are otherwise non-violent and in need of access to treatment.

Members of S.M.A.R.T. include a licensed mental health professional, a peer support specialist, a qualified mental health specialist, a specially trained mental health law enforcement officer, and a paramedic.

If you or someone you know needs mental health services, contact 210-261-1250 for an intake appointment at The Center for Health Care Services. If you are in crisis, call 210-223-7233.

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