If someone is struggling with their mental health, reaching out for help is a brave decision.
But it’s only the first step. There are numerous other steps along the way in a person’s mental health journey.
That’s where the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center’s care navigators can assist.
“When we say navigator, we mean navigating the system and helping people with the next step in the process,” said Dan Parker, program manager for the Bert Nash Center’s Admissions Team.
Those steps may include care coordination, removing barriers, and connecting with other providers.
“We help with that coordination of care,” Parker said. “When people come in, we help identify what their needs are and help connect them to services, whether it’s something we can provide or whether they need to go somewhere else in the community.”
For those in crisis, the next step could be going to the Treatment and Recovery Center (TRC), scheduled to open in 2022. The TRC is located across the street to the north of the Bert Nash Center.
“A big part of our care is warm handoffs, assisting people to where they need to go,” Parker said. “When the TRC opens, a care navigator would walk someone in crisis across the street. Care navigators can continue to work with people when they leave the TRC. “
Coming in for any type of medical services for the first time can be intimidating, confusing, overwhelming, and scary.
Care navigators will be the first ones to meet with clients when they come in. For those who register online, care navigators will do phone screens.
“We will go through a checklist identifying risk factors; we use that to determine the severity of need,” Parker said. “We will talk with people when they come in and give them a very realistic view of what they can expect and what we can or can’t do and to track them as they go through the system.”
Care navigators are part of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) initiative. The Bert Nash Center received its provisional Community Behavioral Health Clinic Certification in June through the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.
With the pandemic, healthcare providers are seeing an increased demand for services.
“The demand for mental health services has never been higher and we’re definitely seeing high acuity,” said Marsha Page-White, Senior Director of Innovation and Implementation. “So, the system is overloaded. That’s been a challenge for all providers. But we are doing everything we can to get people the help they need when they need it, whether it’s something we can help with or connecting them with other providers in the community.”