Health service launches crisis team

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 9, 2014

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Anywhere in Warren County at any time, in-person help Warren-Yazoo Mentally Health Service is just a phone call away.
The mental health organization has established a Mobile Crisis Response Team that will be available 24-hours a day to respond to crises involving youth and adults suffering from acute symptoms of emotional distress.
“We’ve always had after-hours emergency care, but this takes it to the next level,” said Don Brown, deputy director of the service.
Depending on the nature of the mental health crisis, a number of team members ranging from a doctor and master level therapists to peer support specialists will respond in person.
“We try to provide those services to the places they are in at the time,” said Dr. Shelia Lowe, coordinator of the crisis team.
If the person in crisis is in a dangerous situation, Lowe said, they would be brought to the facility on Wisconsin Avenue.
“We see what we could possibly do to assist with what’s going on,” she said.
Similar response teams are being put in place across the state in an effort to reduce hospitalization and incarceration of the mentally ill.
“Our goal is to try to not allow people to fall though the cracks,” Lowe said.
If the crisis is severe enough, the person is referred to River Region Medical Center’s emergency room, but the crisis team works to diffuse the situation as best as possible, said team member Jeanine Hanks.
“That’s what our goal is — to keep people out of the hospital and to help them have a productive life,” Hanks said. “We want to move people out of crisis and into services that help them maintain.”
Voluntary and involuntary commitments are still an option, but they are a last resort, Lowe said. The crisis has peer support specialists who follow up with clients once commitment is over.
People who call the line are not forced into treatment.
“People have choices and they have a choice about their medicine and how they live,” Hanks said.
The push to let the public know about the team has led Warren-Yazoo to put up billboards at locations on Halls Ferry Road and U.S. 61 North.
“This is something we’ve never done before,” Brown said of the advertising.
A full page of information for parents spelling out warning signs that children might be experiencing mental health issues will be published in high school football game programs across the county this fall.
The advertising is also a way for the facility to help combat the stigma associated with mental health care, Warren-Yazoo officials said.
Warren-Yazoo Mental health Service served 3,595 people in 2013. The facility operates on a budget of $8.6 million, with more than half of the funding coming from Medicaid.

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