Frequently Asked Questions

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Who responds to a Heads Up referral?

Most of the time, a Heads Up referral is handled through one of three pathways:  a trained professional from the Mendocino County Behavioral Health Department (through their Mobile Co-Response and/or Mobile Outreach and Prevention Services (MOPS) program); a trained professional working with the Social Service’s Homeless Outreach Team; or an as-needed staff member through the Department of Social Services with the experience and expertise to follow up on “square peg” referrals that do not fit neatly into any identified agency or category of service.

What kind of referrals does Heads Up respond to?

Heads Up responds to a wide variety of referrals.  Originally, we anticipated that the majority of referrals would be for persons experiencing mental health issues and/or homelessness.  However, our experience thus far has revealed a wide range of types of needs within the community of individuals initially requesting a law enforcement response. 

About 60% of Heads Up referrals have been for individuals who are housed, and 40% for the unhoused.  Roughly a third of these referrals have led to follow-up and support clearly within the realm of our Specialty Mental Health system of care. The remainder of referrals, however, have had a diverse origin and response.

Referrals have included: elderly clients in need of greater assistance within their home; parents of teens struggling with complicated and unruly behavior; family members concerned about the general well-being of their loved ones; neighbors concerned about behavior of an individual within their neighborhood; clients themselves calling law enforcement for reasons that are not immediately clear; and much more. 

One of the strengths of the Heads Up project is our mutual commitment to accepting all referrals and a commitment to follow-up, even if there appears to be no logical or obvious “home” for follow-up and ongoing support.

Why can’t a member of the public call Heads Up for help?

This project is designed specifically to increase communication and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and human services agencies.  Heads Up is NOT a replacement for 911.

Our goal is to connect community members to the relevant needed services, and therefore reduce the involvement of law enforcement agencies when alternative services and expertise are appropriate.

However, our referral process is built on the assumption that a trained law enforcement professional has screened the situation for potential danger or criminal activity BEFORE submitting a referral to Heads Up.  Furthermore, the staff responding to Heads Up referrals do not respond on an urgent or immediate basis.

Although members of the public cannot make referrals to Heads Up, we encourage community members to consider whether or not their concern is best addressed through a referral to Adult Protective Services, Child Welfare Services, the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program, Enhanced Care Management, or Mental Health Crisis Services. 

Referral pathways to all of these programs can be found here.

How is this project funded?

The Heads Up Project is unique in that the collaboration is not funded through any grants or dedicated funding sources.  All of the participating partners are doing so within their current scopes of funded work, and sometimes working outside of those scopes to meet the unique or unusual needs of a resident.  We consider our unfunded status to be a strength to this collaborative pilot project.

Who is in charge of Heads Up?  Who is the leader?

No single agency or organization is in charge of Heads Up.  In keeping with our common understanding that complex community problems require complex and creative solutions, we recognize that no single agency or administrator is responsible for solving societal problems with multiple causes.

Although Heads Up has no leader, all participating partners show up with a willingness to support each other, try new approaches, and resolve problems collaboratively.

The Special Projects Team of the County of Mendocino, which is physically housed in the Department of Social Services, provides general facilitation and staff support to the project.

How can I find out more information about this project?

If you’d like to learn more, feel free to Contact Us.