CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohioans will soon have access to more immediate mental health and substance abuse help. Cuyahoga County will be home to some of the state’s first behavioral health urgent care centers.
Non-profit health organization The Centers recently received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAMHS) to establish Behavioral Health Urgent Care centers at its University Circle and Gordon Square locations.
“The need for behavioral health services before the pandemic was outpacing the resources. The pandemic has just made it worse,” said Eric Morse, the President and CEO at The Centers. “We wanted to come up with a solution so people can access the care when they need it. We know when you delay care, things only get worse.”
The World Health Organization estimates the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide. Research suggests substance abuse and drug overdoses have also been increasing over the past several years.
At the same time, demand for services has grown; Morse said the availability of those services has been hampered by staffing shortages and scarce funding.
“Without urgent care, you're waiting 30 to 90 days to get an appointment, if you're just going to do outpatient services,” he said. “If it's a more immediate need, your options are to call the 988 number where you can get some crisis counseling over the phone, or you could go to an emergency room, which really isn't equipped to help.”
Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) at the Centers will be able to accommodate around 15 patients at each location per day. Adults and children experiencing new serious emotional disturbances, significant changes in mental health symptoms or urgent issues arising from addiction will be evaluated and triaged for their needs.
The BHUC care teams at each location will be made up of a psychiatric provider, registered nurse, licensed social worker/licensed counselor, care coordinator, and client service representative.
“It doesn't end there,” Morse said, explaining patients will be guided into longer-term care options and services during their visit to BHUC.
Cuyahoga County’s suicide rate is about 12 deaths per 100,000 people, which is 2 points higher than the national benchmark. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as of 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death in Black/African American children from ages 10 to 14, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
Morse hopes urgent care resources, along with the launch of the national mental health emergency line 988, will help improve outcomes.
RELATED: New 988 hotline is the 911 for mental health emergencies
“If they can just know that there’s help and that they’re going to start to feel a little better in the future, that does just so much for that person,” he said. “I really do hope that that kind of access will help alleviate the distress that leads to people taking their own life units. People are suffering.”
The Centers is holding a ribbon cutting for BHUC on Friday, July 22. The urgent care services will be available for the public on Monday, July 25.
Read more about the urgent care locations, symptoms for parents to watch and the BHUC services by clicking on this link.
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