Pandemic kept Crisis Services’ mobile outreach unit in high demand

Mental Health Awareness

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Crisis Services offers a host of programs intended to meet the mental health needs of Western New Yorkers — no matter the problem, the hour of the day, and for the past year, the location. The mobile outreach program means Crisis Services also does house calls.

And during the pandemic, when many people were forced to stay in their homes, this unit was in especially high demand.

“There’s easily days where, especially during busier times, there may be 20 visits done in a day,” said Lindsay Abraham, mobile outreach counselor for Crisis Services. “The plan for the day is constantly changing. You do have to be really flexible, so you really have to just go where you’re needed, and that can change literally minute by minute.”

Lindsay is one of the team leaders for Crisis Services’ mobile outreach unit, a group of counselors and responders whose time is as critical as it is thin.

The mobile outreach unit — like many of the organization’s services — has had a busy year, especially considering now they do house calls.

“You really have no idea, until I did this job, I really had no idea the scope of within your own neighborhood what people are dealing with behind closed doors,” she said.

Mobile counselors respond as needed, whether it’s a call from someone struggling with a mental health crisis, a well check or as support for law enforcement agencies. Once the issue is identified, the team connects the person with the resources they need.  

The pandemic kept people at home, and it kept many of Crisis Services employees out of the office. But their programs were growing increasingly needed. So they mobilized.

“Whereas a lot of other clinics and other services had to shut down, we never stopped,” she said. “There was never a day when the outreach teams weren’t out and getting people the help they needed.”

That means they have to be available to respond at all hours, everyday.

“Your mental health isn’t going to decide, well it’s a 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, so now it’s a good time to need assistance. So we will come out whenever we’re needed. We will come out whether it’s 2 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, Crisis Services is available to help. And they’ll come to you. Their 24-hour hotline is 716-834-3131. For more information, visit their website.

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