DENVER (CBS4) – Two Colorado organizations are partnering together to combat mental health crises in emergency room patients, by intervening before they happen.
"National rates are showing that ER rates are up during the pandemic," said Dr. Rob Bremer, who is the Vice President for Network Strategy at Colorado Access.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Psychiatry found that rates of behavioral health-related ER visits were higher between March - October of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
Bremer says the conclusion is clear: There is an increasing need for behavioral health prevention, screening and intervention, especially during and following public health crises. Suicidal ideation is one of the top 10 reasons for emergency department visits among Colorado Access members.
"Let's be honest, we're all under a heightened level of stress and anxiety. With the pandemic, it feels more uncertain. It makes sense that feelings of depression and anxiety are higher," said Bremer.
"Screening 100% of the patients that come into the (Littleton) clinic, because we're not really good judges sometimes of someone's depressive symptoms and they may not be displaying them when they come into a clinic setting," Bremer said. "I kind of equate it to a blood pressure. Anywhere where you would go and see a doctor or a healthcare professional and expect them to take your blood pressure, we should expert our behavioral health status to be checked as well."
Bremer says the objective is to normalize the topic. "The more we ask about it.. it makes it less scary, the more you feel comfortable talking to your provider about it because they're asking." said Bremer.
There are resources you can access instantly 24/7, via Colorado Crisis Services. Call (844) 493-8255 (TALK). You can also text "TALK" 38255 or log on to https://coloradocrisisservices.org/.
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