Staff from the San Luis Obispo Police Department stand with members from Behavioral Health and Transitions Mental Health Association.
Social worker John Klevins (center) provides support to community members with mental health needs.

Partnership Provides Mental Health Support To Police Team

Author: Behavioral Health Department
Date: 11/15/2018 5:31 PM

The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Department announces the launch of a partnership program with Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) to provide mental health support to the San Luis Obispo Police Department’s (SLOPD) Community Action Team.

A press event was held today to introduce a new program funded by the County through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The event, held at the San Luis Obispo Police Department, introduced social worker John Klevins, MSW, who has been hired by TMHA and assigned to the SLOPD Community Action Team. The team focuses on outreach and preventive engagement with the city’s most vulnerable populations, including those impacted by mental illness, substance use issues, and homelessness.

Klevins, a social worker with experience working in the County’s Psychiatric Health Facility, will assist the officers in the field, engaging individuals needing support and providing counseling and referral for those with severe mental health needs.

Frank Warren, County Behavioral Health Prevention and Outreach Division Manager, and MHSA Coordinator, provided the history of the project, which has been in development since 2016. Warren highlighted the collaborative approach to the program and stated "We are very fortunate in San Luis Obispo County to have such great partnerships." Warren then introduced Joe Madsen, Division Director at TMHA, who, along with Jeff Smith, SLOPD, brought the concept to the local MHSA stakeholder committee.

Deanna Cantrell, San Luis Obispo Police Chief, described the issue of homelessness and mental health needs in the city, and the challenges police face in getting people the help they need. “This is not always a policing issue, and so we need to find other innovative ways to respond to this unique and vulnerable population. This is the first step in that direction, and I am so grateful for that.”

Warren also announced that the County plans to launch a similar program in the coming months to expand services with the Sheriff's Department and other municipalities. These programs support the goals and objectives of the community Stepping Up Initiative, which aims to reduce the number of people in jails with mental illness.

As part of the MHSA community planning process, local stakeholders approved funding for the position early in 2018. Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) was awarded the program after a competitive process. TMHA is one of the County’s collaborative partners, providing a wide array of mental health services ranging from education and prevention activities to therapeutic services for the homeless and severely mentally ill.

For more information, please contact Frank Warren, MHSA Coordinator, at 805-788-2055, [email protected]