Experts give advice to families in crisis after the St. Louis shooting: 'Make the call'

Experts give advice to families in crisis after the St. Louis shooting: ‘Make the call’

Street. louis – The recent shooting at a high school in southern St. Louis has brought to light the suffering of families looking for ways to help their loved ones in crises. As local families work on recovery, experts are working to raise awareness about the mental health and behavioral resources available in the area.

For people who struggle themselves or worry about someone else, taking the first step toward help can seem overwhelming. Above all, experts say, the best thing to do is make your first phone call — even before a crisis strikes.

“You don’t start to feel like you have to know the answers. You call the wrong number the first time, but they can direct you to the right place. The system is more connected than ever,” said Serena Mohamed, deputy director of the St. Louis Board of Mental Health.

“I think sometimes people feel like they have to know exactly what’s going to happen when they call the number, who’s going to answer, what they’re going to say,” she said. “You can’t figure it all out. Just make the call and make the move.”

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There are many ways to do this, including the 988 helpline, community mental health providers, and behavioral health hotlines at local hospitals.

If someone refuses care and is in danger of causing imminent physical harm to themselves or others, there are steps that can be taken.

Hospitals can put someone in involuntary detention, and law enforcement can start the process. Adults can submit a request on behalf of someone else for a file Involuntary civil detention Through a probate division in the local circuit court.

In each case, the hospital evaluates the patient and decides whether to treat the person for an initial period of up to 96 hours. Medical providers can then request extensions, which are subject to a court hearing.

Crisis assistance and referrals

For people who have primary care physicians, their office is probably the best place to start, experts say. The St. Louis area has a range of mental health resources available, including telephone and virtual counseling, and inpatient and outpatient care.

“a call Which said Michelle Schaeffer, regional vice president of behavioral health at SSM Health. “Any number will immediately start guiding you and helping you. Just take action.”

The Behavioral Health Response Program provides 24-hour services via phone, text, and chat. Everyone will be helped, and no one will be turned away, said Bart Andrews, the agency’s chief clinical officer.

The agency also has a youth-focused hotline – the Youth Contact Helpline – which anyone can contact, including family, friends, teachers, or agencies that are concerned about the young person. With the caller’s permission, Behavioral Health Response can contact the young person by phone to try to help.

“What people don’t understand about the BHRL is that it’s a crisis line — but it’s also a referral process,” Mohamed said. “Even if you’re not in an immediate crisis, you can still call this number, and they can connect you with behavioral health providers.”

The agency also responds to calls from Safe place Program, a national network that is recognizable by its yellow diamond-shaped markings with the words “Safe Place” in black letters. The signs were placed at local establishments, such as fire stations, Walgreens pharmacies, and QuikTrip gas stations. If a youth walks in and says they need help, staff at those locations will be trained to call the Youth Contact Helpline, and the Behavioral Health Response Program will dispatch a mobile outreach team there immediately.

Behavioral Health Response can make referrals to providers who serve uninsured or uninsured patients.

SSM Health DePaul Hospital also has urgent care Specifically for behavioral health services. The outpatient clinic treats children and adults who are in urgent need of mental health care.

Schafer, of the SSM, said if someone is concerned about a family member or someone else supporting them, urgent care is a good option. They can bring the person without an appointment. The clinic keeps slots open with its partner providers so patients don’t have to wait too long to be screened.

Many providers in the area have same-day appointments (although in some cases, they are reserved for people with more important needs). And for long-term continuous care, it can sometimes take two or three months.

Schaefer said DePaul’s Urgent Care offers same-day appointments — and it’s not just for people in crisis. Other service providers are working to increase capacity.

Schaefer said providers in the area are trying to create a system where “there is no wrong door for anyone,” no matter who they are or where they are with their mental health.

“If you have any kind of problem, from mental health or substance abuse, it’s no different than if you have another organic disease,” Schaefer said. “It is really good to ask for help. We are all here working hard to make sure that everyone can get the services they need.”

• talk wiThe tenth Toll-free doctor, call the 24/7/365 Behavioral Health Response Crisis Line. Call 988 or 314-469-6644.

• If your life or someone else’s life is in imminent danger, call 911. It is important to notify the dispatcher that it is a psychological emergency and ask police officers trained in crisis intervention or trained to assist people in a psychological emergency.

• Free help from a mental health expert is available through the Youth Connection Helpline for people who live in St. Louis, St. Louis County or St. Charles County. Doctors can be reached by calling 814-819-8802, texting “bheard” to 31658, or by chatting online at Families and teachers may use the same resources to seek help on behalf of a child who is struggling. Services are provided by the Behavioral Health Response Foundation, a publicly funded organization.

• Help finding treatment: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides hotlines, mental health information and a treatment services locator: Specific early treatment of serious mental illness: National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Send your zip code to: 435748 (HELP4U)

• the behaviorral The Urgent Care Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 12355 DePaul Drive, Suite 150, St. Louis, MO 63044. Phone number is 314-344-7200. Please use stand number 8 along DePaul Drive for easy access to SSM Health Behavioral Health urgent care.

• The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has resources and information on the website

• Mercy Behavioral Health’s call line is 314-251-0555, or the toll-free number 1-844-444-6565.

• Nationl The Alliance on Mental Illness in St. Louis offers education and support groups for families, caregivers and individuals. More information at

• For assistance during crises, text NAMI to 741-741. You will contact a trained crisis counselor to receive free 24/7 support via text message.

Post-Dispatch’s Kelsey Landis contributed to this report.

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