February Community Care Conversations Recap: What to do When You or a Loved One Has a Mental Health Crisis

By Kimberley Bjorn

In February, we had the privilege to speak about mental health crisis with Adam Parker, MultiCare Crisis Services, and Kathy Ryan, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Care Management. Both experts provide clinical care and leadership for the individuals who serve our community facing crises. Please listen to the conversation to learn about our crisis system and what to expect if you encounter a need for support. There are several links to community resources on the last pages of the presentation.

As a clinician who has supported individuals and families in crisis, I have witnessed the frustration, fear and confusion of the behavioral health system. It is confusing and this is why our team wanted to have a Community Care Conversation to review what services are in available and what to expect if you or a loved one is in a mental health crisis.


What is a crisis?

When you believe you're in crisis or witnessing someone else in crisis, your perception of it as a crisis may be different than what a first responder or crisis worker would consider a crisis. Why is this the case? First responders (Fire and Law Enforcement) see a wide range of crises and if it is not life threatening (meaning actively suicidal, homicidal or condition is so grave that immediate care needs to be provided) you may not get the response you were expecting. The good news is that there are resources that will help people connect to what they need.

However, if you or your loved one is in a life-threatening situation, you may be having contact with the Crisis team, or be sent to a local emergency department at the nearest hospital. Kathy and Adam have explained what experiences you can expect if you have contact with a crisis team member and/or arrive at the emergency department. For this hour, we focused on adults who are experiencing a crisis. In the future Community Care Conversation, we will discuss the likely experience and resources for children, youth and adolescents.

One hour is not enough time to have a deep conversation about our crisis system and behavioral health services in our community. It is complex and those of us who have had to navigate insurance, seek out providers or advocate for a loved one to access treatment – this conversation is only scratching the surface. The goal of this hour is to give information about crisis services. If you would like conversations on related topics, please email ask@elevatehealth.com to provide ideas and feedback.

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