Community Mental Health Center Access Protocols

Each school district has “Emergency Protocols” for when students are in deep mental health crisis or when they appear to be a danger to themselves or others.  Another way to think of this process relates to whether a child’s mental health needs are “Routine,” “Urgent,” or “Emergent”.

In Elkhart and St. Joseph County, Indiana, Oaklawn – the Community Mental Health Center – has worked with schools to develop Emergency Protocols for referrals.  Oaklawn has asked each school to designate someone in the school as an “Emergency Mental Health Contact” who is a final triage person to assist families with referrals for urgent or emergent assessment.

An “Emergency Mental Health Contact” or building administrator makes a contact with the child’s parent/guardian.  Together with the parent/guardian, the “Emergency Mental Health Contact” makes a contact with Oaklawn to get an assessment of weather the child’s situation represents an “Emergent” need (“Emergent” is the triage term that refers to an emergency).  The best course of action is the most direct one.  If it is clear that the child needs hospitalization, seeking those emergency services is the first course.

The “Emergency Mental Health Contact” assists the parent/guardian in assuring intake with the appropriate mental health provider.

An “Urgent” need is described as a need which requires a quick response but not needing hospitalization right at this moment or  when functioning is impaired such that student cannot engage in normal routine (e.g., s/he is out of school until can be assessed).  This is often when a child or youth presents with acute symptoms of a mental illness or addiction that significantly impairs his or her ability to continue to function in normal routines and activities.

In this case the “Emergency Mental Health Contact” would assist the family in contacting Oaklawn for an “Urgent” assessment and would be seen in 72 hours.

A “Routine” request for services would be made if the child or youth is still in his or her normal routine but is having substantial difficulties.  Another way of thinking about “Routine”  is: anyone who is seeking/in need of mental health or addictions services that does not meet the “Emergent” or “Urgent” criteria described above.

This process is illustrated on the Community Mental Health Center Access Protocol.

Web development by Panther Internet, Inc.