San Antonio/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on May 26, 2024
San Antonio Boosts Mental Health Crisis Intervention with 24/7 Support Through SA CORE ProgramSource: Unsplash/ National Cancer Institute

The city of San Antonio is scaling up its mental health response program, SA Community Outreach and Resiliency Effort (SA CORE), now set to provide round-the-clock aid for residents grappling with mental health crises starting this July, according to reports from KSAT.

Launched in April 2022 with one pilot team, SAN CORE has swelled to three teams and spans citywide coverage since January. Each team—a collaboration among a San Antonio Police officer, a San Antonio Fire paramedic, and a clinician from the Center for Health Care Services—aims to resolve mental health-related situations on site without resorting to arrests when responding to 911 calls. KSAT reports the teams work every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., covering different thirds of the city.

"It was kind of an experiment a few years ago, but there's been a lot of success," said Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, in a statement obtained by FOX San Antonio. The teams not only deescalate crises but provide valuable follow-up care, checking on individuals after 24 hours and again seven days later to connect them with ongoing support and prevent future incidents.

Despite the program's expansion, the city acknowledges the sheer volume of mental health calls—which reached nearly 32,500 last year—still outstrips the teams' capacity. "Three SA Core Teams is great, but it's not nearly enough for the number of mental health calls that we're getting to 911," Havrda explained, according to FOX San Antonio. The commitment to prioritize mental health care is reflected in the fiscal budget, with $7.2 million allocated for the program's expansion through FY 2025 and increased staffing, adding five clinicians, nine paramedics, and twelve police officers.

Assistant Chief Karen Falks from the San Antonio Police Department, embracing the potential of SA CORE, stated, "I wish we could have more SA CORE teams that could respond to all of those." These remarks, signaling a push for further growth, echo the sentiment of city council's enthusiasm for the program, as reported by KSAT.