The Be Well Orange Campus, located in the City of Orange, treats mental health and substance use in Orange County residents. (Photo by Kevin Doan)

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Huntington Beach launches Be Well OC, a mobile mental health program

Be Well OC is a mobile response team of two crisis counselors to serve mental health needs and substance use challenges in Huntington Beach.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/tdsondy/" target="_self">Tyler Sonderholzer</a>

Tyler Sonderholzer

December 13, 2021

The city of Huntington Beach launched the Be Well Orange County program in Huntington Beach on September 16, the first mobile mental health program in Orange County.

Huntington Beach joins Garden Grove and Anaheim, who have partnered with mental health programs; however, Huntington Beach is the only city with a mobile service.

The team in Huntington Beach consists of two crisis counselors who specialized in community assessment and stabilization to residents who experience mental health and substance use challenges. They also assist with other concerns that require a non-emergency response.

The city of Huntington Beach receives nearly 15,000 calls annually for mental health services, mayor Kim Carr said in a press release. She said the city needs to be a part of the solution.

“Huntington Beach has taken the bold step to be the first city in Orange County to provide mobile response units that will deliver immediate mental health services throughout the community,” Carr said in a press release. “There’s nothing more important than supporting the health and well-being of our residents, and we’re committed to walking alongside them through this new program.”

Be Well OC in Huntington Beach helps relieve police officers from being dispatched to mental health calls so they can focus on crime prevention and be available for urgent calls.

“This program is designed to bring the right support, when it’s needed, directly to the person in need,” Chief Executive Officer of Be Well OC Marshall Moncrief said in the press release. “This will improve outcomes for the community and support law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services so they can focus on calls where they are needed most.”

With mental health being a complicated topic, many people are happy to see professionals be able to be on the field with this program.

“I believe it’ll be more effective for those who are actually trained in mental health and trained to deal with psychological issues to be dispatched,” junior Makaree Stark said. “They can better comprehend what to say to those struggling mentally whether it is urgent or not. They may be better capable of deescalating the situation. It could also be more beneficial to the officers and community if we have more people for specific calls.”

If someone calls 911 or the non-emergency police line, a dispatcher will direct the call and deploy the team if available and they can also be requested at the scene of an accident by the police or fire department

Be Well OC can assist in situations such as mental health challenges, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol use and addiction and much more.

“I think that this is a great program because mental health is often overlooked,” junior David Escutia said. “Everybody handles things differently, but I think this is a great resource for anyone who doesn’t feel right to talk to someone they trust. Nobody should ever feel ashamed to discuss their mental health.”

The service has a campus in the city of Orange and has plans to open two more campuses in the city of Irvine, which has been fully funded by the state and another location to be determined.

Currently, Be Well OC in Huntington Beach is available seven days a week, 12 hours per day. There are plans to expand the service to 24-hour coverage by winter of 2021-22.

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