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Columbia River Mental Health Services offers homeless health care




Columbia River Mental Health Services has launched a mobile health team. This is a program aimed at accessing mental health services, screening for drugs and alcohol, and removing barriers to basic medical care for people experiencing homelessness.

From Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 8 pm, the team will drive Clark County with the goal of meeting people in need.

Team members want to build trust with the homeless community by providing health care and connecting people with resources, and ultimately connecting people with resources not otherwise required.

“Transportation is a major barrier for some of these people. The safety and security of belongings is a major barrier,” said Mike, Director of Columbia River Mental Health Services, who helped design and launch the program. Delay states.

“I wish I could do small things, such as jumping into a van to reduce that barrier, access the services needed to stabilize it, and work more effectively on other barriers that are hindering housing acceptance,” he said. Told. , “We are not only helping the community, but also helping our own system become more effective in servicing the people who need it most.”

The team consists of 5 members. Experienced peers, mental health therapists, substance use disorder specialists, nurses, and part-time providers who provide physical health care to help teams build relationships with the people they meet.

Delay explained that the program is designed to work in conjunction with other resources and programs already available in the region.

“Here in Clark County, we have a very powerful system of outreach and homeless service delivery, all of which are very welcome to this new addition,” said Delay. “Rather than duplicating what already exists, what we’re trying to do is add a layer of service delivery that can complement what’s already in the field.”

Ultimately, Columbia River Mental Health Services hopes to expand its program to seven days a week in Clark, Cowlitz, and Skamania counties. The Mobile Crisis Overnight Team will also be launched in early 2022.

According to Delay, interest in this service delivery method is growing nationwide.

“As long as I’m doing this job in this community, it’s been identified as a need,” Delay said. “And I don’t think it’s unique to this region. I think it’s seen all over the country. But we now have a way to implement it, how to raise money, and how to make it sustainable. I’m just starting to understand how to make it. “

Thanks to the work of Ann Willis, Chief Clinical Officer of the Columbia River, donors from different regions have provided financial support to the program and allowed it to be launched, Delay said. Funding for such programs was not always easy, so these donors were essential.

“Because this is not a traditional billable service model, our government has done a lot of work in the background to find ways to fund such teams,” Delay said. I am. “Very often, we have limits on behavioral health care in the community, depending on what we can actually receive or have funding for behavioral health services available. We are doing a really good job. There are so many programs that need support that it’s not always easy to get the money. “

Work day

Every day is different, according to Laurin Sanders, a mental health therapist who is a member of the mobile health team.

Sometimes there are plans, and the team heads to a known camp to help people who have worked with them before. Team members will also head to a new camp to introduce themselves.

“We just get to know ourselves,” Sanders said. “We just introduce ourselves, explain what our service is, and connect with people that way. There is no pressure to talk to us. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in the service. I will be happy to talk to anyone. “

So far, Sanders said the process has been successful.

“In most cases, we can connect people to a service, give them a little hope, and step into a door somewhere,” she said.

One morning, the team met someone at the camp who was interested in assessing sexually transmitted diseases and treating substance use.

“Once the client is ready, it’s ready,” says Sanders. “And in substance use assessments, the schedule can take weeks or even discourage treatment.”

The team was able to work directly and quickly with the client. Team members were able to provide ratings and connected clients to other services that day.

“It really motivated me,” Sanders said. In addition, confirming that other people in the same camp could help the team established trust and made more connections.

“When one person starts moving the ball, the rest of the community will be a kind of follower, more willing to talk to us, and more open,” Sanders said.

Peer Specialist and Reinhard Trian, a member of the Mobile Health Team, agreed. He said meeting people where they are helps build trust and establish relationships that may lead to future treatments.

“When you’re in their own world, talking to them, and you’re in their zone, they just go ahead and become more open to us,” he said. ..




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