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Published on September 03, 2018

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Depression Can’t Wait: New Program Gets Patients Talking Sooner

Imagine finally getting the courage to see a therapist for depression but the soonest you can get scheduled is three weeks away.

A new triage program at Avera Outpatient Behavioral Health in Sioux Falls is working to make sure people get help when they reach out. It’s an important program for people who may not need immediate care but also can’t wait days or weeks to start therapy.

“Few people get to the point where they feel suicidal,” said Lindsay Neth, MSW, CSW-PIP, with Triage Services. “We don’t want people to feel like suicide is the choice. We want people to realize that there are people who can help.”

People can call the Triage number – 605-322-4086 – and Neth and Avera’s Triage Service will work to see the patient as soon as possible based on a quick assessment.

If the need is high, they will be scheduled within hours, but always within the next few days.

Neth’s team goals include:

  1. Complete an assessment of the patient’s needs.
  2. Talk about stressors and history.
  3. Discuss coping mechanisms.
  4. Create a care plan with the appropriate therapist.
  5. Set follow-up appointments as needed until ongoing therapy begins.

“We help them recognize the tools in their toolbox,” Neth said. “Oftentimes people just want validation that it’s OK to feel the way they’re feeling and that what they’re going through is normal.”

This program is in addition to a 24/7-assessment program for people who are having thoughts of harming themselves and need immediate help. But the vast majority of people are in the middle range and may be suffering from extreme anxiety or depression. They may not meet the need of a 24/7 assessment, but it’s vital they start therapy as soon as possible.

“There is such a stigma for mental health and it takes so much courage to ask for help,” Neth said. “If you get to the point where you ask for help and then we can’t see you for two to three weeks that’s very discouraging. The goal is to meet patients at their time of need and provide continuity of care.”

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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