EPD Homeless Liaison Pamlyn Millsap, Mental Health Case Manager Moonie Higginson, Mental Health Clinician Kelly Johnson and Eureka Police Officer Louis Altic speak with a homeless Eureka resident near the C Street Plaza. Photo Courtesy DHHS.

Press release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services:

Starting this month the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Mental Health staff has joined forces with officers from the Eureka Police Department (EPD) to coordinate in serving homeless people with severe mental illness.

“This launch is the first step in a planned rollout of programs and supports using approaches research tells us will be the most effective use of our mutual resources, while providing essential and immediate help for those needing assistance out of homelessness,” said DHHS Director Phillip R. Crandall.

The Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST) will work specifically with people who are homeless and need help stabilizing their mental illness and securing services and assistance they need to avoid further problems.

“The Mobile Intervention and Services Team is the first step in a series of planned, evidence-based interventions that will allow EPD and DHHS to provide the best possible solutions for people who desperately need help and yet reduce the social disorder that is often associated with some segments of the homeless population,” said EPD Chief Andrew Mills. 

The first phase of the project includes a DHHS mental health clinician who will be devoted to working with Eureka police full time. The clinician will spend approximately 16 hours a week riding along with an officer. The remainder of the week, the clinician will be at Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) and available to assist police in responding to calls for service.

A case manager will also work with the homeless to establish a plan, including connecting them to necessary services. This might include outpatient mental health counseling, medication support, alcohol and other drug services, housing or shelter and linkage to medical and nutrition services as appropriate.

One of the primary goals of the team is to specifically help homeless people who have frequent contact with both Eureka police and DHHS Mental Health staff.

Mental Health staff will assist the person in the field, as well as in transition, if necessary, to DHHS’s Psychiatric Emergency Services or its hospital.

With an earlier and integrated team response, individuals will receive needed care and treatment with the goal of avoiding further law enforcement intervention and psychiatric hospitalization.

“By focusing on those homeless who are most likely to be preyed upon by others and who also require close attention and support, this team is a much needed and welcomed collaborative effort between the EPD and DHHS,” Crandall said.