Behavioral Health Pilot Program Launches in Missouri
If your Metro Transit commute takes you to or from the Civic Center Transit Center in Downtown St. Louis, you may notice a couple of new faces working there. The new team members are part of our partnership with Chestnut Health SystemsTM and they will be assisting transit customers who may have drug, alcohol, and behavioral health issues or challenges due to an unstable housing environment. More than a dozen MetroBus routes connect with MetroLink at the Civic Center Transit Center so it is provides a great opportunity to engage daily with our customers.
This new collaboration in Missouri among Chestnut Health Systems, Metro Public Safety, Allied Universal and the MetroLink Police Task Force is an important step toward fulfilling our commitment of providing a safe, comfortable, and convenient ride for you and your fellow passengers.
Here’s how it works. A two-person team from Chestnut is assigned 40 hours a week exclusively at the Civic Center Transit Center to address transit-related issues involving riders who live with substance use disorders and/or behavioral health conditions. Another team of two behavioral health providers from Chestnut will be assigned to the North Hanley Transit Center early this spring. Our Metro Transit security team members will work alongside the Chestnut teams at both high volume transit centers and will receive behavioral health awareness and de-escalation training.
Our mutual goals are to:
- Reduce loitering at Metro Transit Centers by “all-day” riders and those using the transit centers for non-transportation related needs;
- Address alcohol and drug use at transit centers and on Metro vehicles;
- Address the unique needs of transit customers who don’t have a stable living condition by helping them connect with local shelters and housing programs;
- Reduce panhandling, argumentativeness, sleeping, and other behaviors that can impact you and your fellow passengers as well as operations;
- Provide early detection and intervention for transit customers who need services;
- Improve visibility of Metro Transit system safety, security, and rider satisfaction initiatives;
- Improve communication between customers and security staff; and
- Improve the overall rider experience.
The behavioral health teams will deliver early intervention and offer treatment service options. Transit customers and visitors in need will receive in-the-moment crisis intervention and behavioral health support. Those willing to engage will be connected to services provided by Chestnut or by another provider. Help might be in the form of temporary shelter, food, or medication.
During the times when the behavioral health teams are not available, Metro Transit security personnel will have access to behavioral health consultation and help by phone or video link. This collaboration also extends to our partners at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the St. Louis County Police Department.
This project is an expansion of the successful pilot program with the St. Clair County Transit District and Chestnut Health Systems. That program has teams from Chestnut riding MetroLink trains in St. Clair County to assist customers with behavioral health struggles. The one-year pilot program in Illinois has been recently extended for a second year.
To learn more about Metro Transit’s efforts related to safety and security, visit metrostlouis.org/safety-and-security.