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Enhanced crisis response services to help North Dakotans

(KEYC News Now)
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 12:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The North Dakota Department of Human Services has launched a comprehensive behavioral health crisis response system to provide help and support 24-hours a day, seven days a week to North Dakotans who are experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The initiative also includes crisis response services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities through the Life Skills and Transition Center (LSTC) in Grafton.

“One of our key priorities is to provide services closer to home and these services ensure people receive the right services, in the right location and at the right time,” said department Executive Director Chris Jones.

The enhanced services include the 211 Helpline that anyone can call for help, including law enforcement and other first responders who are helping individuals in stressful situations. Some reasons to call could include substance use, depression, suicidal thoughts, trauma, relationship conflict, or concerns for loved ones.

Clinically trained specialists provide confidential support and try to resolve the crisis over the phone. If it requires an in-person response, a team of behavioral health professionals will meet an individual where he or she is to provide stabilization, resolution and other supportive services.

The mobile response services are provided within a 45-mile radius of the state’s eight largest cities. For individuals outside the 45-mile radius, the mobile response team connects by phone, and if the situation is unresolved, recommend treatment at the nearest critical access hospital.

In addition, the human service centers are repurposing existing residential units that provide long-term treatment services into 24-hour stabilization facilities that focus on short-term intervention and treatment services. Once fully operational, individuals will be able to walk into a facility, receive an assessment and get services that best meets their needs, which could include a referral to a treatment provider for appropriate services.

All human service centers also offer daytime walk-in assessments Monday through Friday during regular business hours to serve individuals with behavioral health emergencies.

“This is a monumental shift in how we best serve people in crisis,” said Jeff Stenseth, field services operations officer. “While some regions have been offering these services for some time, we gradually enhanced them throughout the state over the past year. We are hearing from law enforcement and other first responders that the more robust services are making a difference in their communities.”

Also included in the initiative is a specialized developmental disabilities crisis response team who supports individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“When someone in crisis has a disability, we are called to provide stabilization, support and service coordination within 24-hours of the initial call to 211,” said Sue Foerster, LSTC superintendent. “We also provide support and training to developmental disability service providers and families throughout the state.”

These enhanced services are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, on weekends and holidays to all North Dakotans, not just individuals who receive services through the human service centers. A sliding fee schedule is available based on an individual’s ability to pay, and insurance is accepted if available.

The department’s regional human service centers are located in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot and Williston with satellite clinics in Grafton, Rolla and Valley City.

For more information on the crisis response services, visit www.behavioralhealth.nd.gov/crisis.

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