Community mental health meets Northern Michiganders where they are with mobile crisis intervention

This article is part of MI Mental Health, a new series highlighting the opportunities for children, teens, and adults of all ages in Michigan to find the mental health help they need, when and where they need it. It is made possible with funding from the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan and its Community Mental Health (CMH) agency members. Every mental health crisis is different. So it makes sense that the services provided to people going through a mental health crisis should address their unique individual needs. While many associate a mental crisis with suicide, self-harm, or thoughts of harming others, the range of overwhelming situations can include catastrophic life events such as the death of a loved one, disruptions of daily life such as the loss of a job, and intense personal distress or depression caused by unexpected events such as a global pandemic. Essentially, a crisis is self-defined and can vary widely from person to person from day to day.

The Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority (NLCMHA) recognizes the region’s need for crisis care – and that some situations require immediate attention beyond the confines of the mental health facility. For those who simply need someone to talk to in times of crisis, NLCMHA offers a 24/7 toll-free line, 833-295-0616, which is available toll free. In addition, the mobile crisis intervention services reach an area of ​​six counties: Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford counties.

“A fantastic part of NLCMHA as a six-county organization is that crisis workers across the six counties can support each other to provide 24/7 coverage, even with illness like we experienced during the pandemic,” said Stacey Kaminski, NLCMHA Crisis Operations Manager Services.

NLCMHA Crisis Therapist Amanda Clements shares tips on using the tablet to dispatch the mobile crisis team with CO Dale Suiter and Cpl. Kate Tessner.In addition, NLCMHA has distributed tablets to local law enforcement officials that allow them to direct the mobile crisis team to situations that call for police or county sheriff department intervention.

The NLCMHA Mobile Crisis Intervention team – consisting of masters and bachelors level clinicians – has a fleet of vehicles that enable them to respond to crisis situations off-site as quickly as possible. They go to homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, prisons and other community settings where individuals may experience mental health crises.
Stacey Kaminski, Operations Manager NLCMHA Crisis Services
NLCMHA has been providing mobile crisis assistance for adults and children since 2016. In the past year, December 1, 2021 through November 30, 2022, they have assisted 5,742 people – 4,959 adults and 782 children – with mobile crisis assistance across the geographic region. By comparison, the mobile crisis team served 4,681 in 2020-2021, 3,288 in 2019-2020, 3,572 in 2018-2019, and 3,451 in 2017-2018 – an ever-growing tick in these much-needed services.

“The ultimate goal is to help people in crisis and work side by side with them,” says Kaminski.

After the initial interaction, the crisis team helps provide follow-up resources, such as the location of food supplies or shelters, and helps individuals schedule appointments for services such as addiction treatment, counseling, or primary care.

QUICK help for children and young people
NLCMHA’s FAST program helps families with children.
Mental health problems have no age limit. The number of children and teens experiencing emotional distress across the country is growing at an alarming rate. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children ages 3 to 17 diagnosed with anxiety increased by 29% and the number of children diagnosed with depression increased by 27%, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14 and 25-34 in 2020 and in the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64 year in the US

To address this increase in youth mental crisis, NLCMHA introduced the Family Assessment and Safety Team, FAST, in 2017. These teams are specially equipped to provide care to families with children up to the age of 20. They do home interventions that help children and families solve problems and de-escalate situations in a more familiar environment. When a mobile crisis team is dispatched to address a child or family situation, a peer support person travels with the licensed clinicians to assist in any way they can.

“Peers are individuals with lived experience who can share those experiences and work side-by-side with individuals to advocate, encourage, and advance recovery,” says Kaminski.

FAST’s enhanced mobile crisis services include initial stabilization of the situation, development of a recovery plan and aftercare for up to 90 days. This enables solution-focused, short-term care until individuals are matched with an ongoing care provider.

“The immediate crisis may be over, but it’s only a small part of the mental health journey,” says Kaminski. “The road to recovery and feeling good looks different for everyone. Our teams at NLCMHA are there to help the individual step by step to reach that place.”

Dianna Stampfler has been writing professionally since high school and is the president of Promote Michigan.

Photos courtesy of Northern Lakes CMH Authority

Community mental health meets Northern Michiganders where they are with mobile crisis intervention

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