In early 2020, CASES was awarded a contract to operate the Mobile Outreach Crisis Program (MOCP) by the United States Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). At that point, the program was still just a few pieces of paper being sent back and forth between CASES and SAMHSA. As Program Director, Shatarra Barnes has worked to bring MOCP to life since then, and in spring 2022, the program officially launched and began serving the community.
MOCP is a voluntary support service that aims to address social determinants of health for individuals experiencing acute crisis and other challenges, including: serious mental illness, criminal legal system involvement, and substance use. The program is specialized to serve individuals that do not have existing connections to behavioral health care. Barnes highlights a widespread need for trauma-informed, behavioral health services in New York City, saying “almost every single New Yorker could benefit from these services, because we’re all going through COVID now. We’ve all lived through 9/11. We’ve lived through the 2008 financial crisis. With all of that, on top of the trauma that we each have individually, pretty much everybody over the age of 18 in New York could be eligible for the program at this point.”
The program offers crisis intervention, complex care management, referral to community supports, medication management and client, family, and peer support. These services aim to stabilize people in crisis and connect them to long term support in the community—both at CASES and with external partners. MOCP programming lasts 60-90 days for each participant and ensures that, as Barnes says, “not only are they being assisted through the crisis that they’re going through, but also that they don’t repeat that crisis. We give them the tools to be able to stand on their feet and be their best self.”
The mobility of MOCP is a critical piece of the program, allowing CASES’ teams to meet clients wherever they are and ensure they get the care they need. For clients already enrolled in another CASES program, the team will travel citywide throughout all five boroughs to provide support. “So, if it’s 125th and Lennox in Harlem, we’re going to be there. If it’s 163rd and Third in the Bronx, we’re going to be there—to make sure that we can walk everybody through whatever situation they have and connect them to community-based services,” says Barnes. For new clients who are not enrolled in another CASES program, the MOCP team is currently operating in Washington Heights, Inwood, the South Bronx, and Harlem, with a plan to expand their service area in the future.
Barnes notes that, like other CASES programs, the MOCP staff will be doing work that is trauma-informed and person-centered. “A lot of agencies will say that they are trauma-informed and person-centered, but I find that CASES actually lives that out. It’s not just jargon. I find that everybody really has that same mission, that same drive, that same passion, and that we don’t give up very easily. From the mission statement to the frontline workers, those values affect the client. We’re really a client-centered agency.”
The MOCP is projected to serve 500 individuals over the next two years with a team of nine staff. Six of these nine staff members work in the community in dyads: each pair made up of a social worker and a Peer Specialist. In addition to these dyads, MOCP employs two nurse practitioners, one of which specializes in psychiatry, and an additional floating social worker who will partner with each dyad as needed.
Asked how she envisions MOCP advancing CASES’ mission over the next two years, Barnes explained “CASES seeks to assist any individual regardless of their path, and MOCP is enabling us to make sure that even if you are at your lowest low, and you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on yourself.”
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