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Mental health crisis unit funding sought

With limited funding putting a full-scale crisis stabilization unit out of reach for the near future, Nevada County officials and community support groups are looking at options for shoring up gaps in mental health services.

A stabilization program aimed at helping people through a crisis that avoids sending them to a faraway inpatient hospital is desirable, said Robert Erickson, county Behavioral Health director.

?But the question is, ?Is it feasible??? Erickson asked during Wednesday?s county Mental Health Advisory Board meeting.



With less money to work with due to the state?s budget woes, Erickson said the county won?t be able to move forward with creation of a crisis stabilization unit until the next fiscal year at the earliest.

Behavioral Health handles psychiatric emergencies during business hours, but sends clients in crisis to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital emergency room after hours and on weekends.




Erickson said the county needs to establish a place to evaluate and stabilize mentally ill patients at night and on weekends, rather than send them to the ER.

?I think that would be a boon for the community,? he said.

Rather than pursuing something the county can?t afford, Erickson suggested tweaking available resources to create a better level of service until more funding is available.

He suggested a less expensive, modified crisis stabilization unit similar to facilities toured by board members earlier this month in Mendocino and Tehama counties.

Those units include drop-in centers where people with mental health issues can socialize and talk about their problems; outpatient services; in-patient housing; 24/7 case management assessment; and crisis beds.

However, board members said both facilities lack psychiatrists and registered nurses who can administer emergency medication, and are hard-pressed to provide the long-term care required by the seriously mentally ill.

The advisory board includes members of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Minds in Recovery and SPIRIT.

To help bolster services for the mentally ill, SPIRIT, a group founded by mental health peer counselors, is looking for a place in Grass Valley to establish a drop-in center.

It could be used for the mutual needs of other mental health community support groups, but that?s just on the drawing board now, said Rod Pence, NAMI president.

?If we could find a place that would work for everybody, that would be great,? said Barbara Williams, a MIR member on the NAMI board.


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