GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Overcrowding at mental health facilities is causing West Michigan organizations to think of other options for those who can’t get inpatient treatment.
Network180, a Kent County mental health and substance abuse service organization, has a mobile crisis team that brings services straight to the doorsteps of families in need. The 13-member team started the work last year, but only now is the program being publicized.
“A lot of it is just diffusing what’s happening. So it’s helping everybody just take a breath and calm down. It’s working to unpackage what’s going on,” Network180 CEO Scott Gilman described the team’s work.
Tuesday, a West Michigan mom told 24 Hour News 8 about how hard it is to get her 12-year-old son, who recently became suicidal, proper treatment. He had been at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for more than a week because he can’t couldn’t a bed at a mental health facility.
“They just said there’s no beds anywhere in the state. It could be up to two, three weeks before any type of placement is available for these kids,” Danielle Ely Venn said.
Network180’s mobile crisis program aims to provide immediate help for kids like Ely Venn’s son who are suicidal or have another problem.
It works like this: A call comes into Network180 and, if needed, the team is dispatched. On call all day Monday through Friday, the social workers will go to a patient’s home, schools or hospitals. Police are a part of the effort and will assist if necessary.
“Statistics show us that they have much worse outcomes (without intervention) than if we can deal with the problem in the home. So that’s the goal is to try to keep kids from being removed from the home,” Gilman, the Network180 CEO, said.
He said that’s because it’s kids’ safe place.
Gilman said the team responded to 76 calls in May alone.
“I think that this is a much better way to deal with crisis for kids and adults. Emergency rooms are overburdened as it is,” he said.
Network180 is planning on expanding the mobile crisis team to cover weekends.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255