Cedar Park Leander - Edition | June 2022


Calling 911 for Mental Health Help A total of 133 mental health calls have been received in 2022 under the partnership between Williamson County and Bluebonnet Trails Community Services. Of those, 62 have been diverted away from law enforcement or emergency medical services.

assistance when persons may be in dis- tress,” said Andrea Richardson, Blue- bonnet Trails Community Services executive director. Not only does the agreement give callers access to mental health care, but it allows other rst responders more time to tend to their own respon- sibilities, she said. Through May 23, a total of 133 mental health calls have been made to 911 dispatch in William- son County in 2022, 62 of which were diverted away from law enforcement, according to Bluebonnet Trails data. This agreement is one of many local and regional initiatives to serve resi- dents’ needs. “We’re not only meeting those [men- tal health] needs; we’re anticipating the next needs to come, and we’re kind of laying out a path for that,” said Jes- sica Miller, Bluebonnet Trails’ regional center director for Williamson and Burnet counties. “We’re making sure we have programs and teams in place to meet those anticipated needs.” Expanding services Mental health services have become more sought out in the past few years. Last year, Bluebonnet Trails provided 393,382 services to patients across Central Texas—a 56.89% increase com- pared to 2019, according to data from the health care provider. The clinic serves eight counties at several locations across Central Texas by providing disaster services, crisis services, early childhood intervention and family health care. In 2021, Bluebonnet Trails saw 37,210 patients in Central Texas, which is a 25.55% increase compared to 2019, according to the data. In April, Bluebonnet Trails opened its diversion center where local law enforcement o–cers can drop people o— to access mental health profession- als, doctors, medication and other nec- essary support rather than taking them to a hospital or jail. Roughly 30 people have already been helped through the center, Chief Health Programs O–cer Mike Maples said. Bluebonnet Trails also opened a child respite program June 1. A respite program allows people at low risk of harm to themself or others to stay and receive care for a temporary period. “[The vision] is to make a 16-bed unit here for youth that are between 5-17 [years] to ll that void or gap of people that need respite from the sit- uation they’re in,” Maples said. “They

don’t need inpatient hospitalization; they’re not at that level of illness; but they need somewhere to go to work on their issues to separate potentially from their home.” Although Bluebonnet Trails does not provide inpatient services at its residential facilities, the clinic does have an extended observation unit embedded at the Georgetown Behav- ioral Health Institute, a local psychiat- ric hospital partner. Bluebonnet Trails also operates a 16-bed adult crisis respite program at the San Gabriel Crisis Center in George- town. This program allows patients to stay longer, receive multiple forms of care and transition back into the com- munity through care coordination. Bluebonnet Trails established this step-down home—a program provid- ing an intermediate level of care—due to the long waitlists that most state psychiatric hospitals have, such as the Austin State Hospital, Maples said. These programs have allowed more people to quickly access the mental health care they need. “I think that awareness is rising; I think that commitment is rising; and that’s evidenced by everybody com- ing together in these task forces, these meetings,” Maples said. “We’ve had all-ISD meetings, where it brings all of the school districts in Williamson County together, Leander right up front and center helping lead those conversations.” Creating awareness Williamson County’s Behavioral Health Task Force addresses and advo- cates for mental health care. The task force started when the state of Texas was in a mental health crisis, and residents urged the Commission- ers Court to address the problem, task force Chair Kathy Pierce said. The task force is charged with working with hospitals, the police departments, the sheri—’s o–ce, behavioral health hos- pitals and nonprots to identify gaps in the mental health care system and nd solutions to help ll those needs. Other ways the task force has helped the county bring awareness to men- tal health is hosting events at the Dell Diamond during Mental Health Aware- ness Month in May, suicide prevention billboards, and working with schools and churches to educate them on the importance of mental health. Pierce said the future of mental health awareness is creating as many

Law enforcement

Assessment completed/diversion Total calls

Emergency medical services

















Law enforcement: a mental heath call that Bluebonnet Trails assisted with in some capacity on the phone, but law enforcement responded to the scene EMS: a call that required emergency medical services to respond to the scene Assessment completed/diversion: calls taken by Bluebonnet Trails clinicians that were resolved without law enforcement or EMS involvement

*As of May 23


Making Bluebonnet Trails Community Services entered a crisis services interlocal agreement with Williamson County in November. This agreement allows for mental health care as one of the options oered by the dispatch caller. When helpful, the caller may also be connected to Bluebonnet Trails services or services through their medical provider or a third party. the call

DISPATCH OPERATOR: “Hello this is 911. Is this an emergency for re, ambulance, police or mental health?”

CALLER: “Mental health.”

DISPATCH OPERATOR: “I’ll get you transferred over to a mental health professional.” The call is transitioned to a Bluebonnet Trails qualied mental health professional on the 911 dispatch €oor.


Engages the caller, assesses the needs and, if needed, dispatches a Bluebonnet Trails Mobile Crisis Outreach Team member to the caller. This professional can also arrange for a followup during the next 24-48 hours to ensure the caller’s needs have been met.




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