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Friday September 19, 2014
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Defusing Mental Health Crises

 

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A few months ago, their only choices would have been to leave him in that condition or take him to the U-M Hospitals psychiatric emergency room. Instead, they call for backup-not from the AAPD, but from the county's new Community Crisis Response Team. CCRT immediately dispatches a social worker to the scene.

The county has long reached out to support mentally ill clients in the community. CCRT, which became fully operational in March, takes that to a new level by providing 24/7 emergency response. Its mission: to intervene in crisis situations like this before they escalate to "mental health emergencies."

In this case, the social worker successfully calms the man then logs his case history. It turns out he has a drug problem, is being victimized by dealers in his subsidized housing unit, and is about to be evicted. Yet because he's not an obvious danger to himself and others, he does not meet legal criteria for involuntary hospitalization.

Instead, the social worker makes an assessment and dispenses medication on the spot. (CCRT's social workers and psychologists have been trained to dispense medication; psychiatrists are always on call.) Through ten in-home visits over ten days, CCRT then initiates a series of "warm handoffs," taking the man to meet with care providers who help him secure new housing, treatment for his addiction, and psychiatric help.

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