New approaches to people in mental-emotional crisis, with Kevin Fitts and Janie Gullickson

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Wed, 03/03/2021 - 8:00am to 9:00am
We'll discuss proposed Peer Respite Centers and the pilot Portland Street Response teams


From a recent Willamette Week article, Oregon Considers a New Approach to People in Mental Crisis


Oregon House Bill 2980 would provide funding for three "peer respite centers"—short-term, homelike facilities for people experiencing mental health crises. Currently, people suffering such crises often end up in jail or emergency rooms, neither of which are equipped to handle them. This bill proposes instead to create safe places where people who've had mental health crises themselves—i.e., peers—would provide the services. There would be three centers: one in the Portland metro area, another in Southern Oregon, and a third in Eastern Oregon. The idea, says Kevin Fitts, executive director of the Oregon Mental Health Consumers Association, is to fill a big gap in current services: The state has few options short of locked psychiatric wards, which are extremely expensive and often not necessary.

Host Paul Roland will be talking with Fitts, along with Janie Gullickson, Executive Director of MHAAO, the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon about the history of peer respite centers, and the pressing needs they serve. Even before a person might find themself in a peer respite center, programs such as the pilot Portland Street Response teams practice deescalation and skilled intervention while a person is undergoing a crisis and acting erratically and/or in a way that is threatening (or perceived as such) to/by themselves or others. Together, these new and proposed programs point in a more humane and helpful direction.

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