BOZEMAN—The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every area of our lives from routines and recreating to family dinners and homework. Health providers throughout the county have tracked an increase in demand for mental health services, likely due to stress, social distancing and crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As every member of the community has worked to adjust, it’s clear that increased access to mental health services is important as we all work to stay healthy and happy.
For years, Help Center 211’s crisis lines have been lifelines to many. Through an innovative partnership, Bozeman Health, Western Montana Mental Health Center, and Help Center are proud to announce the opening of our community’s first Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, accessed by calling 211 and located at Gallatin Mental Health Center on Farmhouse Way in Bozeman. This initial pilot program opened last week and is available to receive referrals from 211 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Any person who calls 211 at any time will speak to one of Help Center 211’s crisis counselors. These crisis counselors provide immediate help for those in crisis in addition to appropriate referrals to the new Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center, mental health professionals, and community health and human service resources to help address each person’s specific need.
The Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC) provides a physical location for an individual who needs a higher level of care but doesn’t need to go to the emergency department. People who call 211 may be directed to the BHUC for appropriately social distanced in-person help and care.
The BHUCC increases immediate access to mental health services so people can receive the assistance they need when they need it:
- A safe space for individuals and families
- Crisis interventions, psychiatric evaluations and clinical assessments
- ‘On-the- spot’ brief counseling
- Brief medication management services (excluding controlled substances), and
- Care coordination – referrals and links to community resources
This innovative model also:
- Increases self-determination to access care
- Streamlines care coordination
- Allows primary care physicians to integrate health care into their office virtually
- Services flexibly meet the client’s availability to technology
“As Bozeman Health has responded to and prepared for a medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve also been hard at work behind the scenes ensuring access to needed behavioral health services,” stated Maureen Womack, M.S., Bozeman Health’s system director of behavioral health. “It’s important that people know how to seek care for mental health and crisis by calling 211. We are also coordinating with local law enforcement and community leaders so they are aware of the care that is available to them and this change in how we are addressing the increased need for mental health services through the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center.”
“The Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center plays a vital role in the CIT partnership and co-responders program for jail diversion,” stated Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin. “It provides a needed drop-off site for officers working to assist people into treatment instead of jail and will allow for quicker law enforcement turnaround times.”
“We all know and understand the need to have easily accessible behavioral health resources, care and treatment,” shared Michael Foust, area director, region 1, for Western Montana Mental Health Center. “This collaboration and partnership benefits our community by standing up additional access points, particularly in a crisis situation.”
“Help Center 211 is proud to be part of a centralized system for the intake and triage of requests for behavioral health services that improves referral quality, reduces system inefficiencies, and allows for ease of accessing services for individuals in distress. All they have to do is call 211,” said Christina Powell, Executive Director for Help Center, Inc.
Bozeman Health is providing initial seed funding to support this innovative pilot program, made possible through COVID-19 Compassion Fund and behavioral health contributions made to its foundation by area donors. Bozeman Health has also dedicated significant medical professional support in order to help make the new Behavior Health Urgent Care Center a success.
Every day, and especially in a time of crisis, we all are working hard to bring innovation and compassion forward to respond to the challenges facing the people and families of our community. We are stronger and healthier when we all work together.