Medical and mainstream media are again full of articles reporting on the urgent—and steadily growing—challenge of ensuring people experiencing a mental health crisis get care when they need it. Most recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association published research revealing that children and young adults, in particular, present to emergency room with mental health complaints in greater numbers than ever, including a steep increase in visits related to suicide. The article notes that while the proportion of ED visits for mental health concerns by children and young adults doubled between 2011 and 2020, there was a fivefold increase in suicide-related visits. The authors go so far as to suggest that expanding nonhospital treatment options will be essential in addressing the issue—including availability of services in urgent care centers. While that has been a nonstarter in this industry, to date, some mental health facilities are trying to offer urgent care-like access. In Minnesota, the Brainerd Dispatchreports that the Northern Pines Mental Health Center has set up its own mental health urgent care clinic for those with immediate needs. And in Bennington, VT, United Counseling Service just hosted a Psychiatric Urgent Care for Kids open house, according to an article in the Bennington Banner. Whether it’s establishing referral relationships that might help patients see a mental health professional more quickly or exploring the idea of offering some form of services on site, it seems clear the need is waiting to be fulfilled.
Acute Mental Health Care Needs Spawn Creative Solutions. Is There an Opportunity There?