Experiencing an acute mental health crisis can feel like hanging white-knuckled onto the edge of a cliff. Sometimes it feels like you don’t have the strength or ability to find safe ground. Sometimes it is like being in the midst of a cyclone of anxiety, confusion, trauma or despair; life is completely out of control. The desperate need is to be rescued or guided to safe ground where you can find the stable path to recovery.
Without help, a mental health crisis can end it suicide, homicide, or unbearable suffering. Nothing is worse than to be in a mental health crisis or have a family member in crisis and not know where to find help. In the Tacoma/Pierce county area there are several options to finding help during an acute mental health crisis.
When to call 911
Calling 911 should be for life threatening emergencies. This would include being in imminent danger of harming oneself or others, or if someone has attempted suicide. They will be taken by ambulance to an emergency room where they can be evaluated by a trained mental health professional, and given the appropriate services.
In Tacoma, people in a life threatening, mental health emergency will be taken to the St. Joseph hospital emergency room. St Joseph Hospital has an acute, short-term, voluntary mental health unit for those who are in crisis. They are well staffed with psychiatrists, mental health professionals, nurses specializing in mental health, and social workers.
If the person in crisis is somewhere else in Pierce county, they will likely be taken to the nearest hospital emergency room where a social worker or Designated Mental Health Professional ( DMHP) will be called in to make an evaluation and routed to the appropriate services, either to St. Joseph or one of several crisis centers.
The crisis line can also be used for people who are feeling suicidal and hopeless. The crisis staff are made up of Peer Support Specialists, Crisis Intervention Therapists, and Designated Mental Health Professionals (DMHP’s).
The Crisis Intervention Therapists assess risk and direct callers in crisis to mental health services in the community.
Peer Support Specialists are peers of mental health consumers who have themselves experienced mental health treatment and are trained to help their fellows in crisis. Their experiential insights are invaluable to the consumer in crisis.
DMHP’s are a special group of trained mental health professionals endowed with the role of performing involuntary treatment assessments for people in a mental health crisis. They evaluate the risk level of the person in crisis and assist with getting them in into the hospital or a crisis recovery center such as Recovery Response Center or Telecare Recovery Partnership. DMHP’s are a function of the Mobile Outreach Crisis Team that serves Pierce county.
The crisis line for Pierce county is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can contact the crisis line toll free at (800) 576-7764 or TDD (253) 798-4349.
Optum Health Pierce Regional Support Network (RSN)
Optum Health manages the public mental health system in Pierce county. For those on medicaid they determine eligibility for and authorize mental health services. In crisis you may also call them locally at (253) 292-4200 or toll free at (866)-673-6256 and TTY (800)855-2881. They can refer you to the proper crisis services.
Recovery Response Center
Recovery Response Center is an alternative to hospitalization or other traditional crisis services, usually for those on medicaid or without insurance. They have a welcoming, compassionate environment with many peer specialists, as well as other mental health professionals, available. They have a recovery based model for treatment. Although most people eligible are referred via law enforcement, hospitals, mobile outreach crisis teams and DMHP’s, and many other mental health care providers, people in crisis can self-refer, or their families can refer.
Recovery Response Center is located at 2150 Freeman Road East, Fife, WA and can be reached at (253) 942-5644.
Telecare Recovery Parntership
Telecare Recovery Partnership is an inpatient facility for adults who are experiencing a mental health crisis and don’t qualify for hospital admission. Like Recovery Response Center, Telecare has a recovery driven program. DMHP’s initiate involuntary admissions. Voluntary admissions needs to be authorized by OptumHealth Pierce RSN.
Telecare is located at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd., Lakewood, WA. You can contact them at (253) 589-5334
Greater Lakes Recovery Center
Greater Lakes Recovery Center in Parkland is another secure, inpatient treatment center for adults in the throes of a mental health crisis. Admissions must meet typical hospital admission criteria such as being a danger to self or others. Stabilization and assistance to start recovery are the purpose to this program. Authorization for voluntary admission by Optumhealth Pierce RSN is necessary.
Greater Lakes Recovery Center is located at 10416 A St., Parkland, WA. You may contact them at (253) 503-3649
Recovery support line for non-crisis situations
This service is also known as the Warm Line. Although this is not a crisis line service per se, it is a place to call when someone is feeling intense anxiety or panic, lonely, or when someone doesn’t have any safe, supportive people in their lives and they need a listening ear. Calling the recovery support line can actually help avert a crisis. Callers can receive resources to get further help, advice, and coping tools to prevent a crisis.
Should a caller actually be in a crisis, the support line staff can call or direct the person in crisis to emergency services.
The recovery support line service is available between 3-11p.m. seven days a week. The recovery support staff are trained and often peers who have gone through mental health issues and are in recovery. You may contact them at (253) 942-5655 or (877) 780-5222.
A word to the family
Families, do not suffer in silence. You are not alone. There is help and hope here in the Tacoma/Pierce county area for your loved one. If your loved one is in crisis and cannot reach out for help on his or her own, it is perfectly appropriate for you to reach out to these resources on there behalf. Do not hesitate to call anyone of them. When doing so, ask for resources for family supports as well. You need support as much as your loved one.
Resources on the Web:
Youth Suicide Prevention Program
Depression Bipolar Support Alliance How to help someone in crisis
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI Pierce county
National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide