APD and DHHS partner up to address mental health issues

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ARCATA, Calif. (KIEM)- The Arcata Police Department and the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services have joined forces to address mental health issues in the area.

Four days a week, a mental health clinician or case manager is stationed at the Arcata Police Department and goes on calls with officers to conduct outreach and follow up with people in the community who need assistance.

The partnership between APD and DHHS is known as MIST, the Mobile Intervention and Services Team.

The purpose of the program is two-fold, one, it allows for better assistance for people dealing with mental health issues and secondly, it frees up officers to respond to other calls.

“We really triage each situation and decide whether or not it’s appropriate to have law enforcement there,” said Kelly Johnson, the Behavioral Health Program Manager for DHHS. “They may go to a call and then part way through realize that law enforcement can get back on the streets to do patrol and then the behavioral staff can stay and resolve whatever the situation is on their own.”

Even though MIST has been in Humboldt County since 2015, this particluar group of officers and behavioral health staff have only been working together for few weeks.

So far, the results of this team has been positive.

“They’ve housed several people so far, both temporarily and long term,” said, Sgt. Brian Hoffman with the Arcata Police Department. “Just by them being able to come out on scene and be able to help people when the need it most and they’re the most receptive to that help.”

Sgt. Hoffman said, that aside from being able to identify needed services and assisting in connecting people to them, having a non-uniformed presence can also be a real attribute when creating a connection with those in need.