Three years ago, on Feb. 3, 2015, The Crisis Center dispatched counselors to help an emotionally distressed client for the first time. The Mobile Crisis Outreach team has now answered over 1,000 dispatches in Iowa and Johnson Counties.
In areas where mobile crisis teams don’t exist or law enforcement is unaware of it, many people experiencing suicidal ideation end up in hospital or jail. In many cases, this is not the appropriate setting and actually prevents people from receiving the help they need. The Crisis Center’s clients were diverted from the hospital 84 percent of the time.
At the same time, mobile crisis saves money. Crisis stabilization costs one-third of what inpatient hospitalization costs and dispatching counselors cost 23 percent less than law enforcement response.
Many crisis intervention programs don’t address what comes after the immediate crisis. Discharge is a period of extremely high risk for suicidal clients. Studies show that, during this time, clients’ risk of suicide is an estimated 100 times greater than the general population. Additionally, 70 percent of suicide attempt survivors never attend their first psychological appointment after their attempt, making them significantly more likely to later die by suicide.
The Crisis Center’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Program is there to help those individuals connect with the ongoing services they need to stay alive, when they don’t have the strength to go through these difficult and frustrating processes on their own. Counselors advocate on behalf of clients, helping them navigate these bureaucratic systems by making calls, transporting them, checking in, meeting with family members, and attending appointments over whatever period of time the client needs. “They come to trust us and realize we have their best interest at heart,” said Rochelle Honey-Arcement, Mobile Crisis Outreach Coordinator. “They know we care and will do what it takes to get them the services they need.”
In FY17, follow up services were provided for almost 80 percent of clients, most of whom received more than one follow-up contact.