Hospitalization is often the first step for patients experiencing a significant mental health crisis, but aftercare is just as important for recovery, according to John Gavino, Associate Chief Program Officer.
A new Transitional Care Bridge Program at Family and Children’s Services will help adults and children transition from inpatient to outpatient care with funding received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Admission to a psychiatric care facility quickly transitions a person from high risk for hurting themselves or others to a low-risk, safe environment, Gavino said, reducing the risk that the individual will harm themselves or someone else.
Crisis stabilization is important, but it’s only the beginning of the patient’s journey to managing ongoing mental health challenges. Follow-up and ongoing outpatient care can help the patient maintain stable functioning, get on a path toward recovery and reduce future hospitalizations, Gavino said.
“Just as it’s important for a post-surgery patient to continue care after leaving the hospital, mental health should be continually managed after a crisis,” he said.
Unfortunately, transitions from inpatient to outpatient are often not successful. Rates of outpatient non-engagement can range from 22 to 90 percent depending on multiple factors. Our goal is to increase that engagement rate through this program, he said.
Consistent, ongoing outpatient care can significantly reduce the risk of negative outcomes such as non-adherence to medications, relapse, symptoms exacerbation, re-hospitalization and risk of suicide, Gavino said.
“Seven days after leaving the hospital, patients are 300 times more likely to attempt suicide or be re-hospitalized and 200 percent higher in the first month, he said.
Upon dismissal from a hospital or psychiatric care center, patients should develop an ongoing plan for care with their therapist or case manager. They also should schedule a follow-up appointment within the first seven days of leaving the hospital. That first appointment is the first step in ongoing management of positive mental health.
“We are building a bridge from inpatient to outpatient care,” Gavino said. “Our goal is to reduce the barriers to seeking outpatient care which can include reminders, transportation to appointments or helping individuals obtain technology for home-based virtual appointments.”
Bridge teams consist of a therapist, case manager, nurse care manager, peer recovery support specialist, family support provider, and a behavioral health aide. Teams can visit patients in their homes, schools or shelters, he said. Walk-in appointments are available daily at the Graves Center location.