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Cayuga Crisis Line open to the public: Mobile Crisis teams responding to mental health and substance use calls

By Monika Salvage and Theresa Humennyj, The Citizen, April 2022

  • Almost every day someone overdoses in Cayuga County on a variety of substances. 
  • Suicides have more than doubled since 2019. 
  • Fatal overdoses and completed suicides in females have disproportionately increased over the past three years. 
  • In 2021, we have also seen suicides shift toward younger ages. 

These trends in our county are deeply troubling and frightening. Even more so as they do not follow national trends that showed a 3% drop in suicides in 2020. 

We can speculate about the pandemic’s impact and how social isolation, economic uncertainties, and reverting family responsibilities have disproportionately affected youth, young adults, women, and people with substance use and mental health disorders. The data the Cayuga County HEALing Communities team has analyzed illustrates a county in crisis, one that does not seem to dissipate any time soon and needs to be addressed with urgency. Our community members are hurting and looking for different ways to cope. Their desperation shows in the amount of alcohol, pills, and drugs they are consuming and their actions when they don’t have any hope left.

Hope is just a call away

In its final grant year, the Cayuga County HEALing Communities team is providing funds to expand the 24/7 Cayuga Crisis Line 315-251-0800 and make it available for individuals or loved ones experiencing any level of mental health and substance use crisis. A crisis is loosely defined as someone experiencing an emotional or substance-related stressor that cannot be managed without the intervention of a trained professional. The crisis line is now open to the public and all calls are received by trained crisis specialists that provide crisis support and triage to determine the most appropriate level of crisis response. Our local crisis response can range from a referral to a local provider, phone support, deployment of a Mobile Crisis team, and/or deployment of emergency services.

Mobile Crisis specialists meet you where you are

Liberty Resources is the designated Mobile Crisis provider for Central New York (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties) with offices in Auburn. The benefit of a Mobile Crisis intervention is that most individuals can be stabilized in the community, diverted from unnecessary hospital presentations, and receive a direct linkage to recommended services in the community. In 2020 and 2021, Liberty Resources Mobile Crisis specialists provided close to 800 crisis interventions to over 500 youth and adults experiencing a mental-health-related crisis. 8 out of 10 folks were diverted from unnecessary hospitalizations or arrests. The Mobile Crisis team is composed of Licensed Therapists, Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse providers, Certified Peer Specialists, and Qualified Mental Health providers that come to the home or location of the youth or adult in crisis. Our crisis team can provide crisis intervention, mental health first aid, safety planning, needs assessment, and linkages to recommended supports and services. Short-term follow-up by phone or in person is provided to ensure the appropriate supports are established.

When a mobile crisis team arrives at your or a loved one’s home, you can expect two trained professionals in plain clothes ready to empathetically listen, assess, and support. The individual in crisis is not the only person the team connects with. It is a priority to identify existing and natural supports such as family members, friends, clergy, etc. It truly takes a village to support loved ones who are suffering. The more that are involved, the less strain it is on one particular person. The team will talk you through options to cope with the immediate trigger/stressor, develop a safety plan, and make referrals and linkages to appropriate services. The team will also conduct follow-up calls and in-person visits to further assist with stabilization and community connections.


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