Triaging Mental Health Crisis Becoming Team Effort

There continue to be a host of ways to head off suicide or talk to a mental health counselor. 988 is now the new number to call to head off a suicide and thank goodness – it’s a heck of a lot easier to remember than the previous 800 number that few used! Hotlines continue to try to hire staff. Didi Hirsh, which operates mental health centers in LA, had 1,800 calls into its hotline in March, up from 22 usually. Crisis centers that are kind of urgent care meets ER have popped up in several cities: Baycare, a health system in Tampa Bay, is readying to create a mental health ER type center funded by private donations, including from pro sports teams. In Missouri,  Greene County commissioners partnered with Burrell Behavioral Health to build a 24-hour crisis center for mental health and addiction in February. Jail and ER avoidance was the goal, says Tom Prater.

But often there’s just no time in crisis and with Covid, access the old fashion way is often best. Nurses Cayce Branyon and Emily Shiflet have a nurse-led triage company, 1st Call Triage, that handles much more than mental health but both acknowledge the volume of calls involving some sort of mental health issue continue to go up. The duo have Carolina roots and took a glass-half-full approach this spring, rounding up 20-some thought leaders for a virtual summit on healthcare after Covid. I give them credit. They were on one hand trying to run their relatively new business, on the other trying to elevate the conversation. I was humbled when they invited me to talk mental health. We wrapped about emerging solutions to the mental health crisis and while I may have gotten on my soap box, hopefully the conversation is helpful.

The interviews are all free to access. You can register by clicking here: https://1stcalltriage.com/summit/

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