ACCESS Program


Acute Crisis Care and Evaluation for Systemwide Services

Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services’ (ACBHCS) ACCESS Program is the system wide point of contact for information, screening and referrals for mental health and substance use services and treatment for Alameda County residents. ACCESS is a telephone service staffed from 8:30-5:00 M-F by licensed mental health clinicians and administrative support for both general behavioral health questions and determining eligibility for a range of outpatient services. After hours calls are answered by Crisis Support Services of Alameda County.

ACCESS serves all ages. In order to qualify for Specialty Mental Health Services (SMHS) an individual must meet Medi-Cal’s medical necessity criteria for specialty mental health services and have an ACBHCS insurance plan. ACBHCS insurance plans/programs include Alameda County Medi-Cal, Children and Family Services (per MOU with CFS), Health Program of Alameda County (HealthPAC), CalWorks, Medically Indigent Child (MIC) and Medicare/Medi-Cal (for services not covered by Medicare).

Referrals for services made by ACCESS are based on clinical need and provider availability. Matching consumers to providers is based on various factors including client preference, geographic location, language/cultural need and provider’s clinical specialties. ACCESS arranges interpretation services as needed.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, mental health services are now included as an essential health benefit. Beginning 1/1/14 the Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans (MCPs) and Primary Care Providers (PCP) became responsible for providing mental health services to beneficiaries with mild to moderate impairments. Those Medi-Cal individuals who meet medical necessity criteria with moderate-severe impairment will receive specialty mental health services through ACBHCS.

The MCPs in Alameda County are Alameda Alliance, and Kaiser. Alameda Alliance has contracted with Beacon Health Options, to manage all of Alameda Alliance’s mental health services. Contact numbers for these MCPs are:
  • Alameda Alliance/Beacon: 855-856-0577
  • Kaiser: 510-752-1075
To help define mild-moderate vs. moderate-severe ACBHCS has worked with Beacon Health Options to develop one page screening tools (Child 0-5, Child 6-17; Adult) with an algorithm that indicates whether the consumer should be referred to their Primary Care Provider (PCP), Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan (MCP), or County Mental Health Plan (MHP).

Services Provided by ACCESS
  • General information about services and service alternatives
  • Telephone screening to determine if consumer meets medical necessity criteria for Specialty Mental Health Services
  • Substance Use Disorder Screening and Referrals
  • Crisis screening and referrals (ACCESS is not a suicide hotline)
  • Verification of Behavioral Health Plan eligibility
  • Determination of appropriate level of care and provider selection

ACCESS Referrals for “Crisis/Urgent Care”
  • Call 911 for emergency situations where police or medical assistance is needed right away.
  • Adults in need of urgent care are referred to John George Psychiatric Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services, a 23-hour voluntary/involuntary screening and emergency care facility (510-346-7500).
  • Children (ages 12–17) in need of urgent care are referred to Willow Rock Center (510-483-3030); children (0-11) are referred to Children’s Hospital BERT Center (510-428-3240).