‘Walk-In’ to Expand its Hours, Services

FREDERICK, MD, January 10, 2020 – Going through a crisis means something different from one person to the next. Being a week late on your bills, for instance, might not be so impactful to you, but to the next person, that could be rock bottom. Regardless of the situation, if you believe you are in a crisis and need support, the Mental Health Association of Frederick County offers a Walk-In Behavioral Health service throughout the week and on weekends, free of charge.

“We provide immediate services for community members who are in crisis, and it’s crisis how they define it. Everyone’s tolerance for a crisis is different,” explained Travis Walter, MHA’s Walk-In Behavioral Health Program Manager. “Anything that’s causing an individual to have an escalation whether it’s mental health, substance use, a social issue, relationship problems … We’re here to help.”

The Walk-In service opened its doors about five years ago, and has been completely grant-funded, allowing its services to be at no cost to all members of the community.

“When an individual comes in, in crisis, we are here to help de-escalate the situation at the moment, and we help them create a plan to move forward,” he said. “We provide them with resources or referrals, to help them take action on that plan. Meanwhile, we also conduct a safety assessment to make sure they do not need a higher level of care, such as being treated at our local hospital.”

The nation, in general, has been shifting towards crisis programming, he added, meaning that there has been an emphasis on trying to implement early intervention to prevent individuals from needing to be hospitalized, and to keep them from getting to a point where it’s completely overwhelming. MHA’s Walk-In service is making that same effort, reducing the rates of people who are going to the hospital who might not have needed to.

“When an individual is going through a crisis, we’re here to connect them to the resources they need in the community, such as therapy. We give them a place to deal with what they’re going through, which can be especially helpful for someone who is already in therapy but needs support between their appointments,” he said. “We view ourselves as an urgent care. We want to make sure you’re safe, and then get you back home – or if you need a higher level of care, we make sure you get that.”

Part of this service also involves following up with those who have come into the Walk-In service. Most of the time, our clients report they went on to receive follow-up care – and we view that as a success. Many only need to come in once and are able to continue on receiving the continued care from resources they have connected with in the community. MHA’s Walk-In also has a close collaboration with many of the local schools and Frederick Health Hospital, ensuring high-quality service delivery and continuity of care for our clients.

Currently, MHA’s Walk-In services are available Monday through Friday, from noon to 8 p.m., and on the weekends from noon to 4 p.m. – making it one of the only services of its kind in town that’s open on weekends. Thanks to a recent grant, the hours will soon be extended throughout the week and its services will be expanding to be able to provide even more support to the community.