ICYMI: New Gaston Program for People Facing Crisis

Raleigh, NC

More than 450 people attended a community celebration to kick-off the Gaston County Critical Time Intervention (CTI) program. CTI is part of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Solutions Initiative which focuses on identifying and implementing the best known strategies for crisis care while reducing avoidable visits to emergency departments and involvement with the criminal justice system for individuals in behavioral health crises. For more information on the Crisis Solutions Initiative, visit http://crisissolutionsnc.org/.

"One of the biggest things that we identified is that when people are entering transition, they go into crisis. And instead of finding more crisis services maybe we also need to provide some prevention, and that's what this is."
- Courtney Cantrell, PhD,
Director of NC DHHS' Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities & Substance Abuse Services

New Gaston program for people facing crisis
Lauren Baheri
Gaston Gazette
http://www.gastongazette.com/article/20150616/NEWS/150619630

Gaston has an abundance of agencies dedicated to helping the homeless, people with substance abuse problems and mental health conditions. But most only encounter those programs after they've hit a low. Organizers of a new program want to meet those people before they get to that point.

Critical Time Intervention is paid for by a $365,000 federal grant. Gaston was one of four counties in the state to get the money to launch the pilot program.

Preventing the catastrophe: The state took a look at agencies throughout the state that help with people in crisis and found there was room for improvement, said Courtney Cantrell, director of the N.C. division of mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services. She described the taxing experience of leaving jail or a psychiatric hospital.

"One of the biggest things that we identified is that when people are entering transition, they go into crisis. And instead of finding more crisis services maybe we also need to provide some prevention, and that's what this is," she said.

The time between being discharged and having an appointment with a health-care professional can make or break that person's ability to maintain a stable and healthy life.

A link to other Gaston agencies: The intervention program is designed to act as case management, linking people in need with the resources available in Gaston County.

"One of the things that we are most concerned about is making sure that when people do get access to care and into treatment facilities and get the help that they need, it's not just that singular event. But they have the opportunity to connect to other resources in that community," said Rhett Melton, CEO of Partners Behavioral Health Management.

Critical Time Intervention will connect the person with affordable housing, employment opportunities and health care, among other resources he or she needs from Gaston's various nonprofit agencies such as United Way, The Salvation Army, Gaston County Department of Social Services and Gaston Family Health Services.

And supporters won't just place people in a program and leave it at that. Critical Time Intervention workers plan to check up on their clients for months and even years to see how they're doing.