February 2016 – Mobile Crisis Assessment Team

Over the course of a lifetime, unfortunately, most people experience at least one crisis. Our Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT), launched last July to provide effective crisis intervention in just such situations.  Open 7 days a week from noon to 8pm—including holidays—we serve all residents of Columbia and Greene Counties, at no cost.  On any given day we can cover 1,300 square miles of territory, moving from one location to the next seamlessly throughout the course of a shift. The MCAT team always includes a licensed mental health provider and a psychiatric technician.

At MCAT, our three goals will always be: to avoid hospitalization (Emergency Room or Inpatient), to minimize police intervention, and to link crisis callers to long-term service providers in the community. Once we have linked a crisis client with mental health and other services in the community, we then follow up with them to support their attendance through their next two appointments with providers, in order to help increase their emotional stability post-crisis. We run on a three-pronged system of response: Crisis Prevention, Crisis Intervention, and Crisis Follow-up.

Crisis Prevention, we intervene with individuals who are in situations having the potential to launch them into crisis.  An example would be visiting a school where a student or faculty member has died, in order to inform people of our services in the event that they are needed.  Another example would be doing a “wellness check” on someone who may need a little “check-in” to make sure they are remaining stable.

Crisis Intervention, we intervene with individuals currently in crisis by conducting phone and/or face-to-face assessments and linking them to needed services that can help stabilize them, such as a next-day appointment with a therapist. When the individual in crisis is found to require referral to a hospital we can help facilitate that as well.

Crisis Follow-Up, we remain in contact with those we have served, in order to support them in following through with various crisis stabilization services that were put in place.

Since its launch last July, MCAT has fielded an astounding 1,835 phone calls, receiving referrals from 67 different agencies and programs, including local and state police, schools, mental health agencies, government entities, concerned persons in the community, family members, clients themselves, and of course from various programs within MHACG. In all, we have served 387 different clients and successfully diverted 93 percent of them from psychiatric hospital (ER or Inpatient) interventions.  We also help nearly everyone we serve to avoid police involvement in their crisis.  Finally, we have linked a majority of callers with needed mental health services in the community.  We are excited about the work we have done in the short time our program has been open, and are hopeful about what is to come!  The ability to collaborate both with other programs within MHACG as well as with many outside service providers allows us to continue meeting the needs of individuals in crisis.  Our services are FREE, confidential, and available to ALL residents of the two counties.  Please call us for support and assistance, as well as with concerns or questions regarding what we do and resources we may be able to offer, at (518) 943-5555 any day between noon and 8pm.

 Submitted by,

Aimee Richards

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