The ability for kids and teens to function in everyday life and respond to challenging situations, both emotional and situational, is an integral part of their social-emotional wellbeing. When life becomes overwhelming for them or a behavioral health crisis occurs, crisis intervention helps stabilize children, keep them safe, and encourage hope in them and their families.
Crisis Intervention Services Defined
One of the ten critical service areas the Children’s Services Fund supports is crisis intervention. We characterize these services as those provided in response to a mental health crisis resulting in acute destabilization of a child’s ability to function in the community. Partner organizations who receive funding focus their services on rapid restoration to baseline functioning, which can include assessment and short-term treatment in an outpatient setting.
Crisis is never convenient, and that’s why funding programs that provide 24-hour crisis intervention services is important for the wellbeing of Jackson County kids and their families. Whether through crisis call centers, mobile crisis teams, or crisis stabilization programs, providing outpatient psychiatric care, family or individual counseling, or even housing (like foster care) are all part of successful crisis care that support our community.
The Need for Restorative Crisis Care & Prevention Education
Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders can begin in early childhood. When left untreated, challenges increase over time and as children get older. Although children and teens from any socioeconomic status can experience mental health and behavioral struggles, children living in poverty are less likely to receive treatment. According to the CDC:
- 1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
- Behavior problems are more common among children aged 6–11 years than younger or older children.
- Among high school students in 2019, 36.7% reported persistently feeling sad or hopeless in the past year, and 18.8% had seriously considered attempting suicide.
- Age and poverty level affected the likelihood of children receiving treatment for anxiety, depression, or behavior problems.
Situational and Emotional Causes
The causes that require crisis intervention can range from trauma, homelessness, substance use, personality disorders, relational challenges and conflict to other pressures like:
- Lack of balance between family/home life, school, work
- High expectations surrounding extracurricular activities like sports or academics
- Physical health challenges or injuries (including life-altering injuries or sexually transmitted diseases)
Recognizing, Preventing, and Managing Crises
In one assessment by the Jackson County Health Department, a student recalled, “My school has a thousand kids and three counselors and they are always so busy with other people and bigger problems that they are going to put other issues ahead of your stress.”
Another contributor noted, “A lot of youth are trained very well not to talk about what’s going on if someone takes the time to ask. Sadly, people aren’t taking the time to ask.”
Successful communities support multiple organizations and programs that offer various avenues to recognize and manage kid’s social-emotional health struggles. That’s why the CSF funds partner organizations who place school counselors in Jackson County schools, offer immediate and ongoing support to families, and especially mental health education to help prevent crises. From these vantage points, the community can recognize the signs of mental health challenges in teens and kids, refer behavioral health management services, and provide prevention education.
How Teens and Kids Benefit from Crisis Intervention
Above all else, establishing safety for a child in crisis and those around them is of utmost importance. Additionally, programs work to:
- Help children feel heard and accepted
- Provide necessary therapeutic support
- Enable teens to gain a certain amount of healthy control over their lives
- Give teens goals and help them find purpose to restore their hope regarding their situation and their future
- Connect youth and kids to supportive resources that encourage confidence and restore a healthy self identity
Saving Lives By Intervening in Crisis
Providing crisis intervention can make all the difference in a child’s life — and even save lives.
“We believe that every person in crisis, and their families, should receive a humane response that treats them with dignity and connects them to appropriate and timely care.” In an effort to address crisis needs, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is committed to advancing efforts to reimagine crisis response. In July of 2022, a nationwide three-digit number (988) will be available to communities across the county as a result of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act.
A few partner organizations who provide crisis intervention services include: