Diversion First

Diversion First offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness, co-occurring substance use disorders and/or developmental disabilities, who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low level offenses.

Diversion First LogoDiversion First was implemented because...

  • Too many people are in jail due to mental health issues. Jail is not the appropriate place to provide mental health treatment.
  • There is a need to prevent the incarceration of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
  • To intervene at the earliest point possible to de-escalate situations and avoid arrest.
  • It’s the right thing to do to offer treatment to people who need it, instead of jail being the default solution
  • It’s less costly for people to receive treatment instead of spending time in jail
  • Treatment offers hope by helping people recover and take control of their lives.
  • 1 in 5 Americans has a mental illness. Having a mental illness is not a crime.
  • Responding to recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.
  • The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to support the national Stepping Up initiative to decriminalize mental illness.

The goal is to intercede whenever possible to provide assessment, treatment or needed supports. People needing diversion may also have a substance use disorder, which often co-occurs with mental illness. Diversion First is designed to prevent repeat encounters with the criminal justice system, improve public safety, promote a healthier community and is a more cost effective and efficient use of public funding.

NEW! Read the 2021 Diversion First Annual Report (PDF).

Need Help?

Do you need help for yourself or someone you know with a mental health issue?

If you are calling 9-1-1 for a mental health crisis or emergency, request a CIT-trained officer to respond.

24-Hour CSB Emergency Services
Phone: 703-573-5679 | TTY: 711

Suicide Prevention - CrisisLink
Anyone can text "CONNECT" to 855-11 or call 703-527-4077
(24 Hours/7 Days a Week)

If it's not an emergency, but you or someone you care about needs mental health or substance use disorder services,
call the CSB Entry & Referral Services at 703-383-8500 or come directly to the Merrifield Center.

Diversion First Programs and Services

Learn more about the programs and services that help the diversion effort in Fairfax County.

Learn Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program offered by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board that can help communities understand mental illnesses, seek timely intervention and save lives.

Attend a training or host a class in your community.

Library and Materials

Learn more about Diversion First in Fairfax County. Our archives and resources page contains presentations, reports, videos and more to help you better understand the benefits of diversion.

Contact Us

Need more information or want to schedule a presentation? Reach out!

Director of Diversion Initiatives
703-324-7088 | TTY 711

Fairfax Virtual Assistant