The City of San Luis Obispo is requesting proposals for an additional mental health clinician to serve on the City’s first Mobile Crisis Unit, a pilot program that could dramatically improve the community’s access to crisis care services. 

Like the City’s Community Action Team (CAT), the Mobile Crisis Unit will pair a mental health clinician with City staff to provide non-emergency response and care to community members in crisis, with the primary focus on the unhoused community. Unlike the CAT, which pairs a mental health clinician worker with a police officer, the Mobile Crisis Unit will pair a crisis worker with an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) from the Fire Department for mobile crisis intervention. Both will work closely with the County Behavioral Health Department.

“We are very excited about taking these steps towards implementing this important new pilot program,” said City Fire Chief Keith Aggson. “The Mobile Crisis Unit has the potential to make life changing impacts to our community members suffering from mental health challenges, drug and alcohol addiction and homelessness.”

Earlier this summer, the City Council advanced a proactive approach to addressing mental health across our community by adopting the 2021-2023 Major City Goals and the financial plan for the next two years. In addition to expanding the City’s Community Action Team, the City Council approved the creation of the City’s first Mobile Crisis Unit. The pilot program is designed after Oregon’s Cahoots program as an alternative to police response for non-violent crises.

While public mental health services are traditionally provided at the County level, the City will spend upwards of $300,000 this fiscal year to develop this pilot program managed by the City’s Fire Department to help achieve major city goals around homelessness. The annual ongoing cost is estimated at about $270,000.

The mental health clinician will be responsible for providing on-call mental health services including assessments, case management, rehabilitation services, crisis management, and coordination with/referral to other service providers.

The clinician will need to deliver several therapeutic techniques to homeless, transient, and other high-risk clients who have either/both severe mental health issues and substance abuse issues. This is a physically demanding role which requires assessments/services be administered in the field during response calls designated by dispatch or as identified by on-site observation during regular patrol duties.

For questions about the RFP, please contact City of SLO Homelessness Response Manager Kelsey Nocket at (805) 781-7216 or knocket@slocity.org.