As the world acknowledges Tuesday as Mental Health Awareness Day, St. Augustine’s EPIC Behavioral Healthcare (EPIC) is one of St. Augustine’s healthcare centers that offers immediate assistance to those suffering from mental health issues.
Under the guise of EPIC’s Rapid Response Services, programs include a Rapid Response Team, an Access Support Center and a Co-Responder Program.
Anthonia Levy, clinical director of EPIC’s Rapid Response Services, described these programs as on demand crisis intervention for anyone experiencing acute behavioral health issues. The Rapid Response Team offers immediate assistance to adults 26 and older needing crisis intervention, every single day, regardless of the time.
“These programs lessen trauma through on-site triage, assessment and a referral for the appropriate treatment,” she said. “This helps to de-escalate the situation. The assessment is then followed by a warm handoff to the appropriate mental health services.”
According to Levy, a follow-up is completed within 72 hours to ensure the client is stable and engaged in proper treatment.
EPIC’s Access Support Center provides walk-in clinical services for outpatient behavioral healthcare.
“Individuals seeking counseling or other behavioral health services can do so at the EPIC’s central campus Mondays to Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. without an appointment,” Levy continued. “Screenings, linkages, and clinical evaluations are provided on the same day.”
Levy described the Co- Responder Program as a collaborative approach that includes police and mental health professionals answering calls to those in crises.
“This approach is used to mitigate harm and facilitate an alternative to arresting someone experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crises,” she said. “A care coordinator and peer support specialist provide follow up care to connect those individuals with services and community outreach support.”
Levy said that the Co-Responder Program is designed to avoid Baker Acts, hospitalizations, and arrests. The program also lessens the need for law enforcement to respond to behavioral health crises calls.
“This diverts individuals from jail, emergency departments and crisis units,” she said. “Overall, there’s a reduction in force and an increase in connection to resources.”
According to the World Health Association (WHO), World Mental Health Day 2023 is an opportunity for everyone to understand mental health as a universal right. Dedicated to increasing awareness and providing protection to those at risk, the day underscores the efforts of frontline caretakers who provide services to those suffering with mental health issues.
Statistics from WHO indicate that globally, one in eight people live with mental health issues that affect their overall well-being and their livelihoods. The concern is on the rise for young adults and children.
To avoid discrimination of those affected, the WHO is working to ensure that mental health is “valued, promoted, and protected, and that urgent action is taken so that everyone can exercise their human rights and access the quality mental health care they need.”
Levy described her role at EPIC as an amazing opportunity.
“As clinical director, it’s my role to provide the highest quality of healthcare to all individuals seeking same day access to help,” she concluded. “It’s our responsibility to help to provide timely care. We are leaders in the industry with the opportunity to care for everyone in a dignified manner.”
EPIC Behavioral Healthcare Center is located at 1400 Old Dixie Hwy., in St. Augustine.