Milwaukee County Mental Health Board approves $500K 'CART' request

The Milwaukee County Mental Health Board on Wednesday, Sept. 9 approved a request to allocate $500,000 to create a county Crisis Assessment and Response Team (CART).

The funding would come from the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD) reserves to enter into a partnership with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to create the team.

The CART would pair BHD mental health clinicians with law enforcement officers to respond to situations when an individual calls 911 and asks for mental health services -- or identifies that mental health symptoms may be present.

“Keeping residents safe means offering services that treat the holistic needs of the individual," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "When it comes to mental health needs, residents deserve to have trained clinicians respond in times of crisis."

The partnership focuses on increasing public safety through collaboration, bringing more resources to those who have been historically underserved or unable to access needed mental health services, Crowley added.

Milwaukee County Mental Health Crisis Line

BHD will support the initial program funding with three MCSO deputies and two BHD clinicians by Fall 2020.

The team will provide CART coverage to all of Milwaukee County 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The need for community-based mental health services is significant and we’ve seen the proven success of this model locally and nationally,” said Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas.

Crisis Assessment Response Team

Since 2013, BHD has partnered with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) to support and fund a CART serving the city of Milwaukee.

Data from BHD and the Milwaukee Police Department show that 80% of the time, CART is able to provide an outcome that does not result in an emergency detention.

As the BHD transitions into more community-based care, partnerships such as the expansion of the CART will address mental health and substance use disorder needs in a more effective and preventative way.