A van for a mental health crisis response team in Santa Clara County
The San Jose City Council is exploring the idea of adding a TRUST, mobile non-law-enforcement mental health crisis team into the upcoming budget. Photo courtesy of TRUST.

Weeks before the San Jose City Council sat down to discuss this year’s budget, advocates and residents sounded the alarm about gaps in mental health services and asked officials to expand access to a non-police response program.

Councilmembers on Tuesday unanimously voted to explore adding another mobile field team, known as TRUST, in the budget to help those in mental health or substance use crisis. Councilmembers asked the city manager to explore the cost. The idea is unique because TRUST is the only non-law-enforcement mobile crisis service available, but it’s run by the county — raising questions about how the expansion would happen.

About a dozen speakers lined up to support the idea during the meeting.

“If I had a member of my family having a mental health crisis, I would not want someone showing up with a gun and a uniform,” Emily Hendon, a resident and city employee of more than a decade, said. “Our current program is not enough to support the need across San Jose.”

Santa Clara County already has mobile crisis vans that operate through Campbell-based Pacific Clinics in San Jose, the West Valley and South County. Momentum for Health operates another field team in North County.

Councilmember Peter Ortiz, who introduced the TRUST expansion idea with Councilmembers Domingo Candelas and Sergio Jimenez, questioned whether the mobile field team’s staffing levels are sufficient.

“While our current San Jose team, based in Campbell, does great work, they are stretched thin by responding to the needs of a community of almost a million people, and geography in a city as large as San Jose proves a challenge,” Ortiz told San José Spotlight before the meeting.

Santa Clara County launched  TRUST last November. It received $7 million in funding through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), and a $2 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Services.

“If San Jose is interested in looking at a partnership, we’ll await the city manager’s office’s outreach,” Deputy County Executive Ky Le told San José Spotlight.

Access to TRUST’s field operations is part of a larger issue, with residents complaining about the challenges of going through the 988 suicide and crisis hotline to reach TRUST.  This resulted in the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voting to add a direct phone line  to eliminate caller frustration. This should be available by the end of the year.

According to data presented to supervisors in February, Pacific Clinics had 46 total TRUST employees working its section of the county, including 11 EMTs, 14 peer specialists and three community collaborators. Momentum had 17 total employees, including one community collaborator, four EMTs and rehabilitation specialists and four peer navigators.

“Additional TRUST teams will help our overworked law enforcement officials who respond to calls outside of their scope, frankly,” Candelas said at the meeting.

Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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