Mental health assistance will soon come to you, Wayne County mobile crisis units rolling out

During a mental health crisis, free assistance can now arrive at your doorstep – as a dozen mobile crisis units are being rolled out in Wayne County to help anyone in need. 

No matter the circumstance, two trained and licensed mental health professionals with Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) will show up in an unmarked vehicle to assist during a mental health crisis. 

"I'm talking their house, McDonald’s, the corner, the library – wherever you are, if you need assistance, we can come to you," said Grace Wolf, the vice president of crisis services for DWIHN. ""There already is a stigma around mental health, around substance use, we want people to feel comfortable calling us, which is why our vehicles remain unmarked."

The mental health units aim to offer de-escalation and crisis intervention services, bridging individuals with suitable behavioral health resources, according to DWIHN. The units will also serve as an alternative to calling 9-1-1 or taking a trip to the emergency room – benefiting hospitals and police.

"Detroit is making great steps," Wolf said. "They have implemented a social worker in 9-1-1 dispatch, they've got co-response – all of those things have a place in the continuum, but they are missing this key piece of just someone going out. …To be able to try to help folks before getting to the hospital, before calling law enforcement."

The idea is to place the most qualified people in the most optimal positions to offer help as quickly as possible.

Ensuring the safety of the healthcare professionals is a priority. They must check in every half hour with the call center, and each of the vans is monitored at all times with a GPS tracker, according to DWIHN. Staff have already been trained, the vans were purchased with grant money, and Medicaid will ensure the program continues and expands.

"The long-term goal is that this number and this team is dispatched instead of the police," Wolf said.

The mobile units will become available next month. Those in need of mental health assistance will be able to call 800-241-4949.

Initially, the operational hours will be from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Once fully staffed, the service will be available 24/7.