East Region Crisis Stabilization Unit and Recovery Bridge Center
Building Better Behavioral Health Care
The County of San Diego (County) is transforming behavioral healthcare in San Diego County by building an array of mental health and substance use services that is distributed across the region, enabling people to access and remain connected to care within their own communities.
New East Region Facility
To advance this transformation, the County is pleased to announce plans for the construction of a new East Region Crisis Stabilization Unit and Recovery Bridge Center, which will include sobering services and outpatient substance use disorder services. These services are crucial to the overall effort to expand the behavioral health Continuum of Care and ensure that crisis and recovery services are accessible.
What is a Crisis Stabilization Unit?
Crisis Stabilization Units, or CSUs, provide immediate mental health support and treatment services in a therapeutic setting to individuals in acute behavioral health distress 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.
- 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.
- The goal is to connect to ongoing care and divert from higher levels of care.
What is a Recovery Bridge Center?
The Recovery Bridge Center (RBC) will be located within the same facility as the CSU and will provide short-term services, usually about four hours but not exceeding 24 hours, in a supervised, non-medical environment to intoxicated individuals whose level of public intoxication puts themselves or others at risk. Outpatient substance use disorder services will also be available to ensure continuity of care.
- Individuals admitted to the RBC are screened for substance use or mental health conditions, offered a place to stabilize from substance use, receive counseling services, and are provided resources and connections to ongoing behavioral health services.
- The site will enable drop-offs by health, safety, and law enforcement agencies only and will help redirect persons in a behavioral health crisis or those who are inebriated from an unnecessary emergency room visit or escalated interaction with law enforcement.
Who can receive services at the CSU and RBC?
- The CSU and RBC will serve adults ages 18 and up.
- County of San Diego CSUs generally serve individuals who are Medi-Cal eligible, uninsured, or very low income.
- The RBC will primarily serve individuals in need of sobering services referred by health, safety, or law enforcement personnel, and individuals referred by the CSU or sobering service for substance use disorder outpatient treatment.
How will these services benefit East County?
The CSU and RBC will divert individuals in need of immediate care and stabilization from unnecessary emergency room visits or involvement with law enforcement. These critical services will be offered on a very short-term basis while also providing a linkage to ongoing services.
There are currently limited options for receiving psychiatric crisis care and sobering services in East County. During a psychiatric emergency, getting someone to the help they need quickly is critical, and individuals experiencing acute intoxication need safe environments to recover where they can be connected to other health and support services. This facility will enhance the service offerings available to those living in East County ensuring care is accessible in their community.
East Region CSU and RBC Location
The facility will be located in El Cajon at 200 S Magnolia Avenue and West Douglas Avenue. 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.
The County is currently in the initial planning phase for the East Region CSU and RBC. This process will involve ongoing community and stakeholder outreach. To share input, submit questions, or request a presentation on this project, please complete this feedback form.
- The recording for the May 9th Virtual Information Meeting is available here.
Check back on this page to stay up to date on this project or email Engage.BHS@sdcounty.ca.gov with questions, comments, or feedback.
See below for frequently asked questions specific to this project. Refer to the Crisis Stabilization Unit web page for general questions about County of San Diego CSUs, including the service model, hours of operation, etc.
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.
How can I or someone I know access services?
The CSU can be accessed by self-referral and walk-ins directly into the facility, or via drop-off by health, safety, or law enforcement services (e.g., Mobile Crisis Response Team or police drop-off). Sobering services are only available for inebriated/intoxicated individuals referred by health, safety, or law enforcement personnel. Outpatient substance use treatment services are available via referral from the CSU and sobering service, other local providers, or by self-referral.
What happens once I am discharged from the facility?
After a short stay, clients will be connected to appropriate services that best meet their unique needs.
Will the facility be reserved for those living in East County?
The County is pursuing establishing crisis stabilization units that are regionally distributed so that people across the County who need them can access them close to home. People who have been stabilized in a CSU will be connected to ongoing care and supportive services close to their homes and social networks.
What are the benefits of placing the facility in this location?
East County does not currently have a community-based crisis stabilization unit and this location is centrally located and situated near transit sites which will enable easy transportation. The County wants to ensure that mental health resources are accessible and available where they are needed so that people can get care in the community in which they live. This facility will allow people from East County to get care in East County.
Will there be any impacts to my neighborhood?
The East Region CSU and RBC is an indoor facility that will be designed to have a minimal impact on the surrounding neighborhood and will be carefully managed to minimize noise, traffic, and other considerations. The facility will be an asset to the surrounding neighborhood, both in its design and construction, and in the services it will provide.
Will there be an increase in foot traffic in my neighborhood?
There is no significant increase in foot traffic anticipated. This facility was previously a Covid-testing site, and prior to that a County office, which saw some foot traffic daily. Clients will arrive and exit through the main entrance of the facility and once released will be near a main thoroughfare and transit sites for easy transportation.
What will be the design and square footage of the new facility?
The facility is nearly 10,000 square feet and is being thoughtfully planned. It will be an asset to the neighborhood, both in its design and in the services it provides.
Will there be a security service?
Yes, a 24/7 security service will operate onsite.
Who will this facility serve?
The facility will serve individuals with serious behavioral health needs in need of immediate mental health support as well as individuals in need of supervised sobering care and outpatient substance use disorder treatment. The facility will help ensure that East Region residents have access to behavioral health services close to their networks of support however, services are available to anyone regardless of where they live.
What will be the capacity of this facility?
The CSU will have up to 16 recliners and the RBC will have up to 15 cots.
How can the facility be accessed?
Access to the facility will be through the main entrance via the alley off West Douglas Avenue.
Who will be responsible for addressing site maintenance, dust control,
run-off, and other concerns during construction?
The contractor is responsible for control of site maintenance, runoff, etc. The County of San Diego and the City of El Cajon will cite the contractor if violations occur.
What is the timeline of the East County CSU construction?
The construction of the East Region CSU and RBC is expected to begin in early 2024. Please note this timing is an estimate and subject to change.
When will the facility be opened?
The East Region CSU and RBC is expected to open in 2025. Please note this timing is an estimate and subject to change.
Will people from other areas be brought here to use this facility?
Although services are available to anyone regardless of where they live, it’s unlikely that people would be brought here given the growth of behavioral healthcare facilities across the county in recent years.
How long can individuals stay at this facility? What happens if someone
is placed on a 72-hour hold (5150)?
Most people will stay for 5-10 hours, though some may need to stay for longer. Nobody will stay for more than 24 hours.
Some individuals may be brought to the CSU on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, known also as a 5150 hold. If someone was placed on a 72-hour hold and is not stabilized within 24 hours then they may be transferred to an emergency department or higher level of care.
Does this facility serve individuals experiencing homelessness?
The facility will serve anyone in need of short-term crisis services or sobering care, whether they are sheltered or unsheltered. A key part of these services is ongoing care coordination after stabilization which includes housing navigation if needed, which is different from other clinical care.
Where do people go once they are discharged from the facility?
We know that people do best after care when they are surrounded by family and their social supports. This facility does everything possible to get people back with their close networks prior to discharge. If they have no social supports, then they would be connected to services that are most appropriate to support them including housing navigation if needed.