Over the past few years, the world has become more aware of mental health concerns. Our area is no exception, and Chester County has not been idle. After a year of research, a three-pronged approach is being deployed across our county, joining existing supports for community mental health. These efforts are part of a wider trend across our region giving more focus to the mental health needs of our times.
Within Chester County, a recent year-long study looking into how to best serve our region has led to recommending a three-pronged response system. Each prong would work in unison to better respond to the diverse mental health needs of our community, serving as a unified starting point for all mental health needs. The committee of 45 county stakeholders spent their yearlong investigation conducting exhaustive research, including interviewing more than 1,500 of our friends and neighbors throughout Chester County.
The first prong is a 24/7 crisis response call center to connect people with the mental health resources they need. Dedicated phone and text numbers would allow community members experiencing any sort of mental health crisis direct access to specially trained clinicians, while a general use phone number would connect people who are not in crisis with mental health resources.
The second prong of the recommendation would see teams of responders able to be dispatched to the community when the clinicians in the call center assess that an in-person response is needed. The recommendation is for a two person team consisting of a specially trained clinician alongside a peer support specialist. These teams would work throughout Chester County to help community members where and when it's right for them.
The third prong of the approach would see the formation of walk-in crisis service centers. These physical locations would have clinicians on hand for walk-in crisis response. Similar to urgent care for mental health, these facilities would reduce the burden on hospitals’ emergency departments as well as giving members of our community some place to go when they’re experiencing a crisis.
While the recent suggestion formed by the committee has yet to be fully implemented, there are many resources available in our community for those experiencing a mental health crisis. Valley Creek Crisis Center in Exton has smaller scale versions of all the recommendations and is the recommended emotional and mental health crisis resource on chesco.org.
Philadelphia has dedicated children’s and adults’ mental health crisis support services, available for those within the city’s limit. Last year, the city played host to the launch of a national mental health crisis hotline (988). The new number functions like 911, though it connects callers and texters with trained clinicians in call centers. Philadelphia has one of these call centers, with 12 others in Pennsylvania, and many more across the nation.
Delaware County likewise has community mental health crisis supports available and benefits from the national 988 emergency hotline.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call 988.
Chester County Crisis Hotline: 610-280-3270
National Crisis Hotline: 988
Delaware County Crisis Connections: 1-855-889-7827
Philadelphia Crisis Hotline: (215) 685-6440