Albany County Marks Milestone Anniversary of Mobile Crisis Team and Enhanced Mental Health Services for Residents

Albany County Executive McCoy and Albany County Mental Health Director Dr. Stephen Giordano today joined the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the county’s Mobile Crisis Team (MCT), which has served to develop and enhance protections for the public and law enforcement personnel in times of crisis.

The MCT provides emergency evaluations for individuals living with mental illness or who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and serves as a training resource for area law enforcement agencies who may need assistance. The team was formed in 1985 after the death of a mentally ill individual in Albany following a confrontation with police.

“The MCT is a valuable resource and serves as an important training and response program for the public and law enforcement alike,” said McCoy. “The MCT has been in the forefront of this public safety issue for three decades. The county has worked to develop strong partnerships with law enforcement to protect those in crisis and how officers respond. The MCT has worked closely with local police and responds to nearly 1,000 requests for services every year.”

“Our work to protect the mentally ill and local law enforcement has paid off in many ways,” Giordano said. “Those who need mental health services or treatment get the help they need and law enforcement can call on the MCT when needed.”  

The purpose of the MCT is to provide emergency evaluations for individuals living with mental illness who are experiencing a mental health crisis, who may pose a danger to themselves or others, or may be unable to function in the community.  As a result of the evaluation, individuals may be brought to the Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) at the Capital District Psychiatric Center for an assessment and possible hospitalization or linked to community resources for further care and treatment.

Although MCT services can be accessed by any individual experiencing a mental health crisis in the county, nearly 50 percent of requests for assistance come from one of Albany County’s 13 police agencies. Historically, the MCT has been successful at diverting almost 50 percent of individuals served from psychiatric hospitalization.

The MCT has partnered over the years with local police departments to provide training and support. In 2012, the MCT was instrumental in training 19 APD officers in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model of safely managing interactions with individuals living with mental illness. Later this year the county Department of Mental Health and the MCT will be coordinating the training of 50 police, correctional and probation officers from a variety of local agencies in the CIT model.   

In 1986, the MCT was named the “Program of the Year” by the Council of Community Services of NENY; and, in 1999, MCT received the “Gold Shield Award for Excellence” from the Albany Police Officer’s union.

The team is made up of 7 highly trained and experienced Social Workers and operates under the direction of Katie Flanigan, LCSW, Supervising Social Worker; under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Giordano, Director, Albany County Department of Mental Health and Director of Community Services.