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Program connects those in emotional crisis to UHS

April 25, 2018

Community agencies have launched a new effort to connect people experiencing mental health crises to the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at UHS.

The Mental Health Diversion Program is designed to get people in touch with psychiatric counseling by phone if they don’t need a law enforcement or emergency medical response dispatched to their homes.

Under the new program, when a person in emotional crisis calls 911, they will be offered a transfer to a trained mental health professional at UHS’ 24-hour CPEP phone line, provided the person meets certain mental health criteria.

If a police or emergency medical response is warranted, it will be sent.

Often the person doesn’t require law enforcement or first responders, but, rather, can benefit greatly from having a mental health professional de-escalate the situation, talk them through the crisis and develop a safety plan for them.

UHS’ CPEP hotline is staffed around the clock by psychiatric nurses, social workers and paraprofessionals who work under the direction of a psychiatrist-medical director.

“Crisis management is what we specialize in and have been providing to our community since 1995, whether it’s through our own crisis line, mobile crisis services, or services in the Emergency Department at UHS Binghamton General Hospital,” said Alan Wilmarth, administrative director of Behavioral Health at UHS. 

Continuing, he said:  “Our involvement in the 911 diversion project will strengthen our community crisis efforts and ensure that the caller is managed outside the ED while still receiving behavioral health connection services.”

In the past, a 911 call from a person in emotional crisis often brought a police and emergency medical response, with the person transported to an ED. 

Typically, the patient would be evaluated and the situation de-escalated, with the individual released instead of hospitalized.