Mental Health expands crisis intervention to Darlington, other Pee Dee counties

The S.C. Department of Mental Health has launched its Community Crisis Response and Intervention (CCRI) program in Darlington, Florence and Marion counties.

In partnership with all three counties’ law enforcement, emergency management services, 911 dispatch, and probate courts, the program will provide on-site emergency psychiatric screening and assessment to individuals experiencing mental health emergencies within 60 minutes of contact with the CCRI team.

The service will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and can be reached, toll-free, at (833) DMH-CCRI (364-2274).

“We are excited to begin providing services to the Pee Dee Region,” said CCRI Director Amanda Gilchrist. “Our goal is to quickly link people in crisis to appropriate levels of care and divert them from unnecessary hospitalizations and incarcerations.”

CCRI, a program of the SCDMH Division of Community Mental Health Services, launched services in multiple South Carolina Counties in 2018: Berkeley County in May, Beaufort and Horry counties in July, and five Midlands counties in December. Jan. 3 marked the launch of services in Aiken, Barnwell and Lexington counties.

The program, initiated to address emergent psychiatric crises in the community by means of assessment and referral, aims to provide statewide coverage by late summer 2019.

CCRI provides clinical screenings to both adults and children in one of several ways: in person at the location of crisis, in person at a community mental health center, or by phone. In addition to accompanying team members to on-site screenings, Law Enforcement will access CCRI for consultation or request the dispatch of a clinical team to a scene as needed, allowing for a more efficient use of resources as well as a “warm hand-off” for individuals in need of hospitalization or further evaluation.

“The goal of SCDMH is for CCRI to eventually be able to provide 24/7 crisis intervention services to those in psychiatric crisis across the entire state,” said SCDMH Deputy Director of Community Mental Health Services Deborah Blalock.

In addition to assessing individuals in crisis, CCRI clinicians will educate individuals on available community resources, coordinate appropriate transfers and referrals, match patients to the most appropriate care, and serve as liaisons to the local SCDMH mental health centers. The team will accept referrals from any community partner or individual reporting a psychiatric crisis.

“I am truly grateful for the efforts of the hard-working folks at Pee Dee Mental Health Center and other cooperating groups in implementing CCRI here in Florence County,” said Florence County Probate Judge Jesse S. Cartrette Jr.

“This program will provide emergency assistance 24 hours a day to folks in Florence County who are dealing with mental health concerns, and I believe it has the potential to save many lives.”

Florence County Central Dispatch Manager Mitchell Fulmore added, “Florence County Central Communications is looking forward to working with the SCDMH and our public safety providers. I believe Community Crisis Response and Intervention is an important step in helping our first responders to address mental health in our communities.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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