Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; by ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized. Learn how we can help!
The Emergency Outreach Program is the mobile unit of Erie County Medical Center’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP). This program provides community mental health intervention to individuals in Erie County. The main goal of the program is to divert individuals from unnecessary presentations at local psychiatric emergency rooms and provide them the services they need in order to remain safely in the community.
The Emergency Outreach Program receives referrals from other community mental health agencies, family members, police, friends, neighbors, landlords, or anybody else concerned about the welfare of an individual who appears to be in a mental health crisis. Criteria used in assessing the situation include deterioration of mental health status or an increase in mental health symptoms, along with:
- Acute emotional distress
- Thoughts of suicide or wanting to hurt oneself
- Thoughts of harm to others
- Physical aggression to others
- Refusal of psychiatric or medical care because of impaired insight or judgment
The following services are available:
- Telephone Assessment: Staff assesses on the telephone the level of need for service.
- Outreach Visits: A team of two professional counselors or social workers provides face-to-face mental health evaluation and lethality assessment for the individual in crisis. Generally, this is done in the individual’s home, but can be done at any safe and private location. The goal of the Outreach Visit is to stabilize the crisis and assess for the need for referral to additional community services.
- 9.45 Evaluation: While the goal of an Outreach Visit it to stabilize the crisis and divert the individual from unnecessary presentation at a psychiatric emergency room, sometimes this is not possible. In order to prevent an individual from harming oneself or others, an involuntary transport to a psychiatric hospital is sometimes necessary. Staff is responsible for assessing whether an individual meets the criteria under Section 9.45 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law. If this is the case, the individual is transported to Erie County Medical Center or Buffalo General Hospital for further evaluation by a psychiatrist who determines need for psychiatric admission.
- Jail Diversion: This service is available to law enforcement officers who encounter an individual who appears to be mentally decompensated and has committed a low-level, non-violent, victimless crime. In lieu of arrest, law enforcement can contact the Emergency Outreach Program to provide an evaluation and determine if a hospital transport or linkage to services is more appropriate for the individual than arrest.
- Community Linkage: Staff link individuals in the community in order to maintain health and stability. Such linkages may include outpatient counseling, peer support, case management, social services or housing.
- Consultation: Staff are available for consultation regarding the best course of action for an individual and are able to access psychiatric consultation 24 hours a day.