From the January 2019 issue

Helping Youth in Crisis

Whether at risk or in crisis, families in Oakland County can receive support through the Oakland Community Health Network's New Oakland Mobile Crisis Team and Youth Assistance programs.

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Peer pressure, school pressure, bullying and more. For many of today’s adolescents, the pressures of day-to-day life can be too much to handle.

When things get overwhelming, it’s hard to know where to turn for help, but getting support is critical in order for youth to thrive.

Families in Oakland County have leaned on the Oakland Community Health Network for support for developmental disabilities, mental health issues and substance use disorders since 1963. Through its programs, at-risk kids and their families can be referred to caseworkers for help and support.

“It’s been my experience over the years that the earlier that we can intervene, the better off that child is,” says Mary Schusterbauer, the chief of Oakland County Youth Assistance.

Acting as the prevention arm of the court, Youth Assistance receives roughly 3,000 referrals annually for everything from retail fraud to assault to drug offenses. The goal? To keep at-risk kids out of the court system.

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“We do short-term counseling and make sure kids understand the consequences of their actions,” Schusterbauer adds.

Youth Assistance caseworkers are in every school district in Oakland County and work in partnership with the districts and municipalities.

When crises do arise, families can call the New Oakland Mobile Crisis Unit, which launched in September 2018. The Oakland Community Health Network, in partnership with New Oakland Family Centers, provides this unique service to families within the community, and it’s available to youth, or anyone between the ages of 0 and 21, who are facing a mental health crisis, says Megan Szalony, the ICSS project coordinator for the New Oakland Mobile Crisis Unit.

“A lot of times youth are having suicidal thoughts, they are already engaging in some self-harm, or it could be potential loss of coping skills,” Szalony says, “or just threatening behaviors such as threatening a sibling, threatening a parent or threatening to harm themselves.”

In these cases, parents, or even the individual in crisis, can contact the New Oakland Crisis Line at 877-800-1650 to request that the Mobile Crisis Team, which includes a master’s level clinician and a social work technician, be deployed. The team should reach the family or person in crisis within an hour.

“The goal of the service is to provide intensive support that children and youth need in crisis, but bring it to them so they don’t have to seek it out in the community,” she says.

The Mobile Crisis Unit can come to several locations within the community, including homes, foster care homes, emergency rooms, parks and community centers, and other public gathering places. However, they are prohibited from detention centers (such as Children’s Village in Oakland County), day care settings and jails, Szalony says.

“Should the individual need additional crisis support, they’ll do a clinical assessment, and that allows them to understand the potential supports this individual needs, whether it’s a partial-day program, which is a form of hospitalization, or an inpatient program,” she adds. “If that child or youth needs additional support, they are able to facilitate it and get them connected to the right support for continued stabilization.”

For additional crisis intervention services, families can contact Common Ground and the Resource and Crisis Center. Common Ground is an OCHN provider and delivers a wide array of crisis intervention services, including managing Oakland County’s Helpline. The hotline is available 24/7 and can be reached by calling 800-231-1127.

Sponsored by the Oakland Community Health Network. For support or to learn more, visit oaklandchn.org.

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