On the Front Lines of Treating Mental Illness: Meet St. Joseph’s BART Team

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Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- Humboldt County’s suicide rate is well above the national average. Addiction and self medication are frequently described as rampant. It’s a good sign that more people are seeking help on their own terms and are getting help from where they want to find it. For example, more people are going to an online doctor like the ones on Recovery Delivered to get their addiction medication delivered straight to their door. This helps eliminate one of the issues that many addicts face; a clinic that is too far away for them to travel to. However, while there are more people looking for help, the number of people suffering from addictions is rising faster.

That’s why St. Joesph Health has developed a new strategy for helping patients struggling with mental illness. They help to identify the need for care. They are the three person Behavioral Assessment Resource Team or BART.

May is mental health awareness month. Frequently, mental illness is treated as if it should be met with shame. It’s shrouded in stigma. As if an imbalance of chemicals or altered neurotransmitters were indicators of a weak mind or constitution. None of those attitudes are accurate, and indeed they are counterproductive for patients. Much like our physical health, mental health is dependent on genetic luck and factors often out of the control of individual patients. People struggling with mental illness are just that– ordinary people.

That’s why the BART team also focuses on compassionate care. They meet patients as they are admitted to assess whether or not they may be eligible for mental health services.

A statement from St. Joseph Health described the team as follows: “Members of the three person team collaborate with mental health professionals throughout the county, and even nation-wide via TelePsych services, to assess, engage and provide resources for care navigation of individuals who are dealing with drug and alcohol addiction in addition to mental health instability. The team coordinates Suboxone treatment and placement in detox programs like Waterfront Recovery Services in Eureka, suicide prevention counseling, Telemedicine coordination, and collaborates with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Mobile Response Team to find beds out of the area for 5150 patients because of the shortage of such beds locally.”