As JUCM News readers know (and as you may have experienced), the COVID-19 pandemic drove up patients presenting with symptoms of depression and anxiety. It should come as no surprise, then, that behavioral health urgent care facilities have been popping up with greater frequency recently. Just this week, media outlets in Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota carried news of the openings of walk-in mental health centers. That’s certain to be welcome news in the Tucson area, for example, where Tucscon.com reports that residents can wait more than up to 6 weeks to see a mental health professional—far too long to be safe for someone who’s in crisis. While it’s unlikely you’re going to start advertising for a part-time social worker, some urgent care operators have already gotten creative in facilitating behavioral health needs, such as by participating in a program described in an article in the March issue of JUCM (read Reducing Low-Acuity Preventable Emergency Room Visits by Utilizing Urgent Care Center Services Via Mobile Health Unit Diversion Program). Regardless of what you’re able or inclined to do, be aware that patients may turn to their nearest trusted resource when they feel like the need immediate help, and that sometimes that trusted resource may be your urgent care center. At the very least, have information on a suicide hotline on hand and work on establishing relationships with local mental health resources, and ensure your staff knows how to respond.
Will Post-Pandemic Blues Drive Growth in Behavioral Health Urgent Care?