Mental health assistance readily available
By Patte Smith
May is Mental Health Awareness month and Douglas County is proactively helping adults and youth get mental health help when needed. In 2017, the first adult mental health Community Response Team (CRT) was organized in the county. With a much-needed mental health response team for youth, Douglas County formed a CRT specifically for school-aged children in November 2019. The youth CRT responds directly to Douglas County schools’ requests for specialized mental health support. Last year, children and youth were the largest age group needing CRT intervention.
Currently there is one Douglas County adult CRT and one youth CRT team. Castle Rock and Parker police departments each have a CRT. Teams assist in each other’s jurisdictions, if necessary, and Douglas County CRT handles calls from the Lone Tree Police Department.
A CRT includes a law enforcement officer, a mental health clinician, fire and emergency medical services and a case manager who is assigned to the team in order to follow up with each case. The youth CRT collaborates with the child, the parents and the school to provide ongoing care for children in need and provides other resources as needed.
When a 911 call is requesting a CRT, a patrol deputy arrives at the scene to see if the CRT is necessary and assesses if it is safe for the CRT civilian clinician. When all is clear, the clinician arrives and does a crisis safety assessment. If the adult or youth is allowed to stay where they are, a safety plan is made with CRT case management. The deputy provides security on the scene and works to build rapport with the person being aided and the family.
At times, it is necessary for an adult or youth to be placed on a 72-hour mental health hold. Local FIRE/EMS do a field medical clearance at the scene to determine if the individual needs to go to a hospital emergency room. If cleared, the CRT transports the individual directly to a mental health facility where the person will be held.
Key to the success of a CRT is the communication between school, home, the community and law enforcement. Teams follow up with the individuals and families they assist. In one case, after a young person was discharged from a mental health facility, the parents had difficulty obtaining the necessary medications for their child due to an insurance provider’s error. For two weeks, the insurance company had not returned their calls, so they contacted CRT. The team found two different partner providers to get the youth their medications that same week.
Please be aware that no matter what the circumstances, mental health services are a phone call or text away for help. Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Reach out for free, confidential, professional, 24/7 support.
- If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional, mental health or substance use emergency;
- If you don’t know where to begin seeking help for yourself or others;
- If you aren’t sure how to handle a crisis or a situation that may lead to a crisis.
Visit https://www.douglas.co.us/mental-health-initiative/community-response-team-crt/ or https://coloradocrisisservices.org/, or call 1-844-493-8255 or text 38255.