In October 2020, the Bexar County Commissioners Court 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 our 26 suburban cities.
In doing so, the Commissioners Court created a new mental health co-responder program, which is directed by the County and administered by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) . Law enforcement, paramedics, and mental health professionals are joining in the effort to address 9-1-1 calls that indicate a mental health need.
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.
- Focus on assistance using the least restrictive approach.
The team’s focus currently 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.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact Thomas Peine.