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County Looking to Develop Mental Health Crisis Program

by and on October 11, 2018 5:00 AM

Centre County Human Services feels that the emergency room is not always the best place for people who are in crisis, but that often is where they end up. Now, it is looking at ways to better help people during these times by setting up a diversion program to provide them with better options. The program looks to offer a safe place outside of the ER for those experiencing a mental health crisis without a medical issue.

Natalie Corman, the county’s director of mental health services, addressed a recent Centre County Commissioners meeting.

“We are looking to further develop our crisis diversion program,” said Corman. “While we offer our mobile services through CanHelp and we offer out delegate services, we are looking at some additional service to improve an individual’s connection in their time of crisis. So, whether that is being diverted from the ER to a respite opportunity or whether that is diverting from a hospitalization, we are really looking at expanding those services.”

“The ER, many times, has become an epicenter for individuals who are in crisis,” said Commissioner Michael Pipe. “An ER is maybe not best situated to handle that because of the nature of the crisis, so this is excellent news to hear.”

Corman said the county has spent a lot of time researching other programs around the state aimed at helping people in crisis.

“The police officers often see the ability to take people to the ER, and is there a better location that we could serve the individuals in a time of crisis?” said Corman. “We’ve seen it done where it is a very short-term, maybe overnight, stay for someone as we connect them with services the next day. It could just be a location somewhere in our community where, instead of the ER, they go there first. They don’t have medical needs, then they go there instead of the ER.”

According to Corman, the program is still in the developmental stage, but part of the money will come from retained funds from the 2017-2018 human services block grant the county receives annually. The office is completing a report to the state on the funding used, and it will report the plan to use $224,000 toward the new program. Corman said this will be a good start for the program, but her office plans on using other sources for funding, too.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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