Mobile Crisis Teams use face-to-face interventions with the identified individual in crisis, as well as their family or other support systems, to engage, assess, de-escalate and connect individuals to the most appropriate services. Most MCTs include both professional and paraprofessional staff, for example, a master’s-level clinician with a peer support staff person. MCTs have common goals to:
a. Assist individuals experiencing a crisis event to resolve the crisis situation when possible.
b. Provide intervention in an environment where the individual experiencing the crisis is most comfortable and the intervention is least restrictive (often their home or other place in the community);
c. Provide appropriate care/support while avoiding unnecessary law enforcement involvement, emergency department use, and hospitalization when possible;
d. Link individuals in crisis to all necessary medical and behavioral health services that can help resolve the situation and prevent future crises.
You can request help from a mobile crisis team if you are concerned about a family member, friend, or acquaintance who is experiencing (or at risk of) a behavioral health crisis. You can also request a team for yourself. To request a team, call NYC Well at (888) NYC-WELL (888-692-9355). If you are a provider looking to make a referral for a client/patient/student please refer to the provider page.
NYC Definition of Behavioral Health Crisis
Person in New York City who is experiencing, or is at risk of, a behavioral health crisis defined as non-life-threatening situation in which a person experiences an intense behavioral, emotional, or psychiatric response triggered by a precipitating event. The person may be at risk of harm to self or others, disoriented or out of touch with reality, functionally compromised, or otherwise agitated and unable to be calmed. If this crisis is left untreated, it could result in an emergency.
Criteria for an in-home/community response by a Mobile Crisis Team (MCT)
The person currently meets the NYC definition for a behavioral health crisis; AND the person is unwilling or unable to seek or adhere to behavioral health care on their own or with the aid of a family member, caregiver, or friend; OR the person requires short-term supports until behavioral health services are available.
Mobile crisis teams can provide mental health engagement, intervention, and follow-up support to help overcome resistance to treatment. Depending on what a person is willing to accept, the teams may offer a range of services, including:
• Crisis intervention
• Supportive counseling
• Information and referrals, including to community-based mental health services
If a mobile crisis team determines that a person in crisis needs further psychiatric or medical assessment, they can transport that person to a hospital psychiatric emergency room.
Mobile crisis teams may direct police/EMS to take a person to an emergency room against their will only if they have a mental illness (or the appearance of mental illness) and are a danger to themselves or others. This is in accordance with New York State Mental Hygiene Law.
Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Do MCTs provide in-person services during the pandemic?
Yes, MCT is considered an essential service and may provide in-person care throughout the pandemic. There may be situations in which telehealth is appropriate to the situation depending on specific COVID-19 considerations for the person in crisis or their household.
2. How do I access MCT for myself or someone I am concerned about?
Anyone can call NYC Well if they are concerned for themselves or someone else, by calling 1-888-NYC Well (1-888-692-9355), texting “Well” to 65173 or internet chat at the NYC Well website https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/. NYC Well counselors will assess the person/situation and provide an appropriate intervention. If the person/situation is eligible for MCT services, NYC Well will send the referral to the most appropriate MCT, generally depending upon the person’s age and location.
Health and mental health care providers may also make a referral using NYC Well’s online referral tool (https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/providers/mct-referral/) between the hours of 9am and 4:30pm.
3. Does NYC Well provide MCT services?
No, NYC Well provides 24/7/365 crisis counseling, peer support, information, and referral to behavioral health services, including MCT services, over the phone (talk/text) or internet (chat). MCTs are operated by hospitals with state licensed Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Programs (CPEPs) or Psychiatric Emergency rooms or by community-based organizations designated by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Each borough has one MCT that serves all children and young adults in that borough, ages 0 through age 20 (up to age 21). There are 19 adult MCT that serve the five boroughs ages 21 and up.
4. How quickly will an MCT respond to a referral via NYC Well?
MCTs aim to respond to all referrals as quickly as possible, and generally within several hours of receiving the referral. Factors that may impact response time include:
Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
a. Information from the referral source about the best time to find and engage the person in crisis
b. Multiple referrals received at approximately the same time resulting in a need to triage depending upon the situation
d. Difficulty gaining entrance into the building/apartment/home
5. Do MCTs respond on holidays?
Yes, MCT services are available 365 days a year.
6. What hours are MCT services available?
MCTs provide services between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week.
7. Who is eligible to receive MCT services?
A person is eligible to receive MCT services if: the person is in New York City and is experiencing, or is at risk of, a behavioral health crisis defined as a non-life-threatening situation in which a person experiences an intense behavioral, emotional, or psychiatric response that may be triggered by a precipitating event. The person may be at risk of harm to self or others, disoriented or out of touch with reality, functionally compromised, or otherwise agitated and unable to be calmed; and if this crisis is left untreated it could result in an emergency; AND either of the following: the person is unwilling or unable to seek or adhere to behavioral health care on their own or with the aid of a family member, caregiver, or friend; or the person requires short-term supports until behavioral health services are available.
8. Do MCTs work with people who are street homeless?
MCTs generally do not work with people who are street homeless, who more often benefit from Homeless Outreach Services that are designed to canvas neighborhoods and more likely to successfully encounter the person. Persons who are street homeless should be connected to HOMESTAT (Homeless Outreach Mobile Engagement & Street Action Teams by calling 311).
9. Do MCTs work with people in shelters or in supportive housing?
Yes, MCTs will respond to referrals for people residing in a shelter. Please note that if the person is residing in shelters or in supportive housing that has on-site mental health clinicians, those on-site staff may be more familiar with the person and their needs and thus better situated to provide crisis intervention for the person. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult for outsiders to be let in to shelters or supportive housing settings; therefore, close collaboration with the shelter or supportive housing provider is helpful to promote a successful MCT intervention in such settings.
10. Do MCTs work with people on Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Forensic ACT (FACT), Shelter Partnered ACT (SPACT) or Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT) teams?
Generally, MCT interventions are not recommended for a person who is already receiving mobile treatment services from an ACT, FACT, SPACT or IMT team. These services have similar skills and capabilities with MCT and bringing in a new provider like the MCT can often be confusing. However, it is critical that the person in crisis and the referral source is aware of how to reach those teams during a crisis.
11. Will an MCT charge my insurance?
MCTs rely on a combination of public funding and insurance revenue to sustain their operations. Therefore, the MCT will collect insurance information and submit claims to your insurance provider for services rendered.
12. Do I need insurance to receive MCT services?
No, MCTs respond to all eligible referrals regardless of the Immigration and insurance status of the person experiencing the crisis.
13. When does a behavioral health crisis require 911?
We advise you to call 911 for emergencies and NYC Well for urgencies. 911 can send an ambulance to take a person to a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) or Psychiatric Emergency Room. Examples of situations that would be emergencies include:
a. A person’s behavior that poses an imminent risk of harm to self or others, for example suicide attempt in progress, or wielding a knife
b. A person expressing thoughts of suicide with plan, intent, and preparatory behavior
c. A person expressing thoughts of homicide with plan and intent
If you’re not sure, you can call 1-888-NYC Well (1-888-692-9355), text “Well” to 65173 or internet chat at the NYC Well website and a trained counselor will help to assess the most appropriate next steps, including 911/ambulance or connection to non-police crisis intervention services.