County of San Diego Crisis Stabilization Units

Building Better Behavioral Healthcare

The County of San Diego (County) is transforming behavioral healthcare in San Diego County by building an array of mental health services that is distributed across the region, enabling people to access and remain connected to care within their own communities. In alignment with this vision, several community-based Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs) have become operational in recent years providing a critical service option for people experiencing mental health crisis. Legislative actions at the state level may create a path for CSUs to also care for those who are experiencing severe substance use disorder.

North Coastal CSU in Oceanside

What is a Crisis Stabilization Unit?

Crisis Stabilization Units, or CSUs, provide immediate mental health support and treatment services in a therapeutic setting to people with serious behavioral health needs who require urgent care beyond what an outpatient clinical service can provide.

CSUs can help to deescalate a person’s level of distress, prevent or treat a behavioral health crisis, and reduce acute symptoms of a mental health condition. Additionally:

  • Services are tailored to each person and are provided on a short-term basis, up to 24 hours, and include crisis intervention, mental health assessment, medication assistance, therapy, and peer support.
  • CSUs are designed to be relaxing and quiet, with a calming environment to support mental wellness.
  • Individuals may be admitted voluntarily or may be brought in on a Welfare & Institutions Code (WIC) 5150 hold.
  • The goal is to connect people to ongoing care and divert from higher levels of treatment.

Who We Serve

The County of San Diego offers crisis stabilization services to children and adults at various locations countywide, see section below for more detail. County CSUs generally serve individuals who are Medi-Cal eligible, uninsured, or very low income and who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency.

If you have any questions, contact your primary insurer or reach out directly to any of the CSU locations listed below.

Regional Crisis Stabilization Units

The County of San Diego currently has six CSUs – five for adults and one for children and adolescents. All CSUs can help to deescalate a person’s level of distress, prevent or treat a behavioral health crisis, and reduce acute symptoms of a mental health condition.

Facility Region & Neighborhood Address & Phone
Children’s Emergency Screening Unit
Serves children and adolescents under 18
Central, Hillcrest

4309 Third Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 876-4502*

*Please call in advance if possible

North Coastal Community-Based Crisis Stabilization Unit
Serves adults 18+
North Coastal, Vista 524 W. Vista Way
Vista, CA 92083
(760) 305-4900
North Coastal Live Well Health Center Community-Based Crisis Stabilization Unit
Serves adults 18+
North Coastal, Oceanside 1701 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
(760) 712-3535
Palomar Crisis Stabilization Unit
Serves adults 18+
North Inland, Escondido 2185 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029
(760) 739-3012
San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital Emergency Psychiatric Unit
Serves adults 18+
North Central, Midway 3853 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 692-8222
Paradise Valley Bayview Crisis Stabilization Unit
Serves adults 18+
South, West Chula Vista 330 Moss Street
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 585-4221

Community Toolkit 

Expand the library of outreach materials below for community use.

New East Region CSU

Coming 2025

To support the need for psychiatric crisis care in East County, a new facility is currently under construction in El Cajon at 200 S Magnolia Avenue and West Douglas Avenue, estimated to be operational in 2025. This site was chosen to be centrally located and close to:

  • Public transit for accessibility to everyone in greater East County, regardless of whether they have access to a vehicle.
  • The freeway for quick transports by emergency or personal vehicles.
  • Other East County-based behavioral health services for connection to ongoing support or treatment.

This facility will enhance the service offerings available to those living in East County ensuring care is accessible in their community. Note that previous plans for this CSU included a Recovery Bridge Center (RBC) with a sobering center and outpatient substance use disorder (SUD) services. This project was formerly known as the East Region CSU/RBC. In light of conservatorship reform, and an emphasis on substance use disorder care at LPS-designated facilities, these plans have shifted. The County is working with the state to optimize access for crisis stabilization services for those with SUD. For questions, email Engage.BHS@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Learn More

For a glimpse at one of the County's newest CSUs, check out this County News Center video on the Oceanside Crisis Stabilization Unit which opened April 2022:

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is a psychiatric emergency?

    A behavioral health crisis or emergency, also known as a psychiatric emergency, is a situation in which a person’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors may lead them to hurt themselves or others or put them at risk of being unable to care for themselves or function in a healthy manner. A person in crisis may experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or a sense of a loss of control. These feelings may be initiated or worsened by substance use.

    The following list includes some common signs that may be associated with a mental health or substance use-related crisis:

    • Changes in mood or behaviors that cause concern
    • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
    • Sudden changes to hygiene and self-care practices
    • Unusual thoughts, sounds, or visions that cause fear or distress 
    • Sudden onset or increase of substance use
    • Feeling helpless or hopeless
    • Sense of loss or control over thoughts, feelings, emotions, or behaviors


    If you think you or someone you know could be having a psychiatric emergency, call the Access and Crisis Line at 1-888-724-7240 to speak with a licensed, behavioral health professional. Calls are answered 24/7, are confidential, and always free. Translation is available in 200 languages.

  • Do CSUs serve all ages?

    In the County of San Diego there is one designated Emergency Screening Unit located in Hillcrest area which serves children and adolescents. All other County of San Diego CSUs serve adults ages 18 and over. Please see the table above for a list of all facilities and their populations served. 

  • Who works at the CSUs?

    CSUs are typically staffed with behavioral health professionals, such as clinicians and psychiatrists, as well as nurses, case managers, and peer support specialists. 

  • What happens while I’m at the CSU?

    Individuals admitted to a CSU will be assessed by staff to determine the most appropriate course of treatment – which can include medication, short-term counseling, observation, etc. An individual will stay as long as needed to stabilize but services are designed for a stay of up to 24 hours. Individuals will have an opportunity to meet with health professionals to learn more about what is causing the crisis and will be provided resources to follow up on after discharge.

  • What type of service connections might I receive upon discharge from the CSU?

    Depending on the needs of the individual, the CSU staff will refer them to behavioral health services and/or primary care services to most closely align with their ongoing treatment needs.  

  • Is this a service for people experiencing homelessness?

    CSU services are accessible to all people who are in crisis, whether housed or unsheltered, and includes connections to ongoing behavioral health care and housing services when appropriate. 

  • Do I need to make an appointment to go to the CSU?

    You will not need to make an appointment and can be assisted just by walking in. 

  • What will happen after I am discharged from the CSU?

    Once a person is feeling better and the immediate crisis has passed, they are linked to services that can meet their unique and ongoing needs. The goal of the CSU is to ensure clients stabilize and are linked to appropriate treatment services.

  • Do CSUs serve individuals from any region?

    Yes, CSUs serve anyone in need of services regardless of where they live. There is no need to go to the CSU that is in the region where you live. 

  • Can I bring my family member or friend to a CSU with me?

    You can have a family member or friend bring you into the CSU but they will not be able to stay for the duration of the treatment. 

  • What are the CSU hours of operation?

    CSUs are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

  • Do law enforcement drop off people at CSUs?

    Yes, law enforcement can drop off individuals experiencing a psychiatric crisis at the CSU. CSUs are designed to enable the smoothest transition possible from law enforcement engagement to care hand-off – this is less taxing on individuals, allows deputies to return quickly to the field, and provides a care plan leading to less recidivism.

  • Is there a cost for CSU services?

    Yes, however, the cost of CSU services for individuals who qualify for Medi-Cal, are uninsured, or very low income are generally covered by the County. For individuals with private insurance, in most cases the CSU will bill your insurer. Contact your private insurance provider with coverage questions.

  • Who can I call to access services or support for an individual who is experiencing homelessness but not a behavioral health crisis?

    You can contact your local Homeless Outreach Team or 2-1-1.  

  • Does the CSU offer services in languages other than English?

    Yes, language interpreter services are available.