What is a crisis? A crisis situation can apply to many different things: a natural disaster, a hostage situation, an accident that requires going to an ER, a runaway youth, a divorce, or even getting the wrong order at a restaurant. Sometimes, what one person considers a crisis may not be a crisis for someone else. In the world of SASS (Screening, Assessment, and Support Services), we work with kids who experience a psychiatric emergency and have particular types of insurance coverage. A psychiatric emergency is when a youth is a harm to themselves, a harm to others, or experiencing a decline in functioning that could cause them to be a harm to themselves or others. SASS works specifically with youth who have Medicaid or are wards of the State (DCFS wards) up to age 21 and uninsured up to age 18.
We provide these services in a lot of different places including emergency rooms, schools, homes, and the detention center to name a few. During an evaluation, crisis workers evaluate the level of severity in order to decide if the youth is safe to be in the community. From there the crisis worker will work on linking the youth and family with services. We try to keep youth stable in their home and community if at all possible. If it is deemed that it is safe to do so, we will work with the family to provide options of services in the area and attempt to link them to the service that they prefer. If it is decided that a youth is unable to remain safe in the community, some of the more restrictive services include a PHP (partial hospitalization program) where youth receive behavioral health treatment in a hospital day program, or inpatient hospitalization. Assessments look at a snap shot of how a youth is functioning right now. Some of what is discussed includes what the presenting problem is, history of mental health, and what services or supports are in place. This information can be gathered from multiple sources including the youth, their guardians, school professionals, primary care physicians, and emergency room personnel. The decision on what is best for the child is made through collaboration with parents, other mental health providers, and doctors.
After a client receives an assessment, regardless of the outcome, they receive follow up services to help continue to stabilize the client and reduce the likelihood that the client will need another crisis assessment. These services include therapy, case management, and community support services. If more long term services are needed, the SASS follow up team members will work to get the family linked.
Despite the nature of crisis, our workers respond calmly, professionally, and efficiently to crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help support and stabilize youth in our community with mental health needs.