Rutland Mental Health plans text line for those in crisis | News
A crisis line that allows those in need to contact a clinician via text message will soon be available from the Community Care Network – Rutland Mental Health as a way to engage with young people early and provide them with the support they need need.
Loree Zeif, director of emergency services, said the crisis text line will be for anyone needing help during a mental health emergency, but may be more appealing to young people who are already more comfortable communicating by SMS.
“The idea is to engage people who might be reluctant to pick up a phone first,” she said.
Zeif said the new program indirectly owes its existence to the pandemic. She said that when her adult children were home due to COVID, they asked her why she thought young people like them would “call a crisis line if they weren’t well.”
“As my son said, ‘If a take-out restaurant option lets you order online, that’s where we’ll order from.’ It’s a different sensitivity for young adults than it is for older adults who are more accustomed to using the phone regularly,” Zeif said.
The Community Care Network (CCN) already offers a crisis line for voice calls, but Zeif said those calls are often routed to a voicemail service that connects a caller to a clinician within five minutes. The text line will be monitored directly by staff.
“We’re still juggling that we can handle more than one crisis at a time, but that should be a pretty quick response time,” she said.
While Zeif said the people who gravitate to the hotline are expected to be young adults or teenagers, the line, which is expected to start operating in early 2022, will be available. for all who need it.
But Zeif said she also expects the text line to serve as another way for people to reach out in a crisis before potentially getting guidance toward a more direct relationship with healthcare professionals. mental health that can help.
“We don’t see it as a long texting relationship, we see it as texting allowing a clinician to establish a connection with the client and then turn that into a phone, telehealth, or in person (treatment) ideally,” she said.
As with voice calls, one of the first goals of clinicians will be to assess the caller to determine if the client is at imminent risk to themselves or others and needs to go to the hospital.
“If they have that feeling, they’re pretty quick to say, ‘Can I call an ambulance for you? How can we take you to the hospital? We are worry for you.’ Then we’ll go see them in the (emergency department),” Zeif said.
If the texter appears to be in crisis but not at immediate risk, that person may be invited to the SCC offices or, more likely, asked to allow one of the clinicians to visit so that the clinician can help the person access next steps appropriate.
“I can perfectly imagine a young person expressing their distress in a text message and a clinician never having to speak to them on the phone but saying, ‘Can I call you an ambulance? Can you give me your address? I can meet you at the hospital. and that it’s more comfortable for a young person than being on the phone,” Zeif said.
Finding ways to “meet people where they are” is something Zeif described as an “ongoing challenge”.
“It’s just about constantly thinking outside the box about how we can do this better, how to connect with people in different ways,” she said.
The text line is supported by a $10,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
Zeif said this was a relatively small funding requirement because clinicians already have smartphones that can support a text messaging app that will support the crisis text line.
Although Zeif said she did not know the details of the availability of the crisis text line once it was up and running, she expected it to be accessible from the website of the organization – rmhsccn.org – online.