“We are a phone call away.”

Peace of Mind Pacific County hosted Elizabeth Limbocker, chief clinical officer at Willapa Behavioral Health (WBH), at its monthly community awareness dinner on Nov. 27.

Limbocker talked about WBH’s mobile crisis unit and its efforts to provide services to people who have co-occurring disorders.

Mobile crisis teams

“Why would you need a crisis team? A variety of reasons,” Limbocker said.

WBH established a mobile crisis team unit in early 2018. Teams, which consist of two people, meet people in crisis wherever needed. Anyone in the community can access the crisis team.

Requests for a crisis team can come through the county’s 24/7 crisis number, 1-800-884-2298. When a call comes through the line, a trained professional assesses what services the situation calls for before a team is sent out.

“We are a phone call away,” Limbocker said.

Anyone who comes into a WBH branch can get connected with the crisis team unit. The team can also meet people at the hospital, Limbocker said.

The crisis team unit is contractually obligated to respond to someone they receive a call about or from within two hours. Response time depends on where an individual lives in the county. Peninsula residents can expect a 30 minute or less response time, Limbocker said.

WBH tries to staff its Raymond location to shorten response times in North County, Limbocker said. A staff member was recently hired to work primarily from the Raymond office.

The crisis team unit works with law enforcement when responding to calls.

“We don’t want to send our mobile crisis team to a situation that could be dangerous or volatile,” Limbocker said. “That’s why we work with the police; let’s first look at if there’s a mental health crisis going on. Maybe there’s an issue that police don’t need to be involved in.”

Law enforcement in the county is good at realizing the jail isn’t where someone who needs mental health services should be, Limbocker said.

Co-occurring disorders

Many of WBH’s therapists focus on either mental health or substance use disorders (SUD) when working with patients. However, several people come to WBH with both mental health and substance use disorders.

WBH is in the process of hiring staff to serve patients with co-occurring disorders (COD). WBH is one of only two agencies in the five-county region of Southwest Washington trying to provide COD services, Limbocker said.

COD services will include hosting a group meetings for individuals who face both substance use and mental health problems.

“Sometimes it can be hard to tell what came first,” said Salina Mecham, WBH therapist.

Individual sessions, intensive outpatient services and outpatient services are currently offered by WBH, Mecham said.

Intensive outpatient services are when an individual comes for a few hours, figures out a recovery plan and how to manage triggers, Mecham said.

Outpatient services are “basically for relapse prevention; for those who are a little wobbly on their recovery,” Mecham said. These can turn into individual sessions that may happen weekly or monthly.

“There is such a high need for mental services, which is a good thing because people are realizing they need help,” Mecham said.

•••

Limbocker joined WBH in 2017. She has 20 years of experience as a marriage and family therapist. Limbocker earned her master’s from University of Rhode Island and her bachelor’s from Pacific University.

POMPC’s next community dinner will be held on Jan. 22 at the Peninsula Church Center in Seaview. Dinner is served starting at 6 p.m. A speaker will present from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Willapa Behavioral Health can be reached via its 24/7 crisis line at 1-800-884-2298. North County residents can call WBH at 360-942-2303; South County residents can call WBH at 360-642-3787. WBH can be found online at https://willapabh.org.

Alyssa Evans is a staff writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact her at 360-642-8181 or aevans@chinookobserver.com

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