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Community Response to Mental Health Emergencies

It is estimated that over 8,300 Douglas County residents are living with a mental health diagnosis. Although having a mental health diagnosis does not always result in a mental health emergency, Compass Behavioral Health Pre-Commitment Investigators have processed more than 13 civil commitments since January 2018—more than double the average of the previous three years—and investigated over 450 potential emergency cases that did not result in commitment.

A $750,000 federal Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grant to the City of Roseburg will enable the City and Compass Behavioral Health to launch a mobile crisis program that pairs local police with mental health providers to support people experiencing a mental health emergency in which a person’s behavior puts them at risk of hurting themselves or others.

Police officers respond to a variety of calls for service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are often the first to respond to a mental health emergency. Data compiled for the JMHCP grant application showed a 45 percent increase in mental health related calls to the Roseburg Police Department since 2013. Calls involving mental health emergencies can be very time-consuming, stretching resources and diverting officers from other law enforcement matters.

Over the past two years, the Compass Crisis Team has worked with the Roseburg Police Department on mental health professionals riding along with police officers and developing on-call professionals to assist with police calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises. The BJA grant will allow Compass to hire two Qualified Mental Health Professionals who will co-respond with police seven days a week during high risk times in and around the City of Roseburg. The mental health workers will provide acute mental health stabilization and assessment and connect people to appropriate mental health treatment.

One of the main objectives of the program is to avoid unnecessary hospitalization or incarceration of people experiencing a mental health emergency. A recent survey by the Douglas County Jail and the Behavioral Health Subcommittee of Douglas County’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council found that approximately 36 percent of inmates booked into the Douglas County Jail may have a serious mental illness. Although Compass now works with state and local partners to provide specialized services for justice-involved individuals, the JMHCP grant will provide a unique opportunity for clinical staff to intervene prior to arrest, transport to the emergency department, or being booked into jail.

In January 2018, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners signed a resolution supporting a call to action to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the Douglas County Jail. The resolution, part of the national Stepping Up initiative to interrupt the cycle of incarceration and hospitalization for those with mental health disorders, demonstrates our community’s commitment to a more coordinated and effective response to care for those who may experience a mental health emergency.

If you or someone you know experiences a mental health emergency, help is available. Compass Behavioral Health provides crisis intervention and evaluation services 7 days a week, 24-hours a day for Douglas County residents. Our professional Crisis Services Team is available by phone or walk-in during regular working hours, or by phone on weekends and after hours. To learn more about Compass, visit us online at http://adaptoregon.org/mental-health/.

Cherie Barnstable is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and serves as the Clinical Director for Compass Behavioral Health, a division of Adapt. She can be reached at 541-440-3532.

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About Compass Behavioral Health: Compass Behavioral Health—a division of Adapt—is Douglas County’s Community Mental Health Program and a mental health service provider. Compass evidence-based treatment and support services for children, adolescents, adults and families. http://adaptoregon.org/mental-health/

About the Grant: The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grant Award is a joint effort of the City of Roseburg, Adapt/Compass Behavioral Health and the Douglas County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council. The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program supports cross-system collaboration to improve responses and outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse who come into contact with the justice system. https://www.bja.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?Program_ID=66