Recently Care to Change has been working with a variety of groups in Hendricks County, including first responders, the medical community, local government, schools, businesses, and other mental health providers to develop a psychological Crisis Response Team for our community.

What’s a Crisis Response Team? It’s a group of people from different segments of the community who are ready to provide emotional support when a crisis occurs. Examples of crisis situations include everything from a suicide, a natural disaster, to a major accident or fire, to violent crimes, to an act of terrorism.

When bad things happen, first responders and medical providers spring into action. For example, in a mass shooting, the police immediately intervene to provide protection and attempt to immobilize and arrest the shooter. Fire personnel immediately treat victims and transport them to hospitals. Those hospitals call in extra doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to treat wounds and provide lifesaving care.

But what about the mental health needs of the victims, their family members, and the people who witnessed the shooting? What about the family who lost their loved one to an overdose or suicide? That’s where the Crisis Response Team would step in, bringing groups of trained mental health professionals to support people in crisis. That may include helping victims process what happened, counseling people who have lost family members, and helping the community understand the situation.

The goal of a Crisis Response Team isn’t to handle the long-term mental health needs of those involved, but to deal with immediate issues, identify the longer-term resources individuals may need, and connect them with sources for that help. It’s ministry at it’s finest because it is meeting people in those moments of great need.

Churches are an ideal partner for Crisis Response Teams, because they’re already accustomed to responding when members face difficult issues in their lives. When we experience incomprehensible situations like someone’s suicide or the death of a young parent we know, people often turn to their pastor or faith community for support. By becoming involved in the community’s Crisis Response Teams, churches can extend their ministries to serve others, and offering hope in what can seem like a hopeless situation. It’s being the light in a moment of darkness.

Here’s information about the next training session for Hendricks County’s Crisis Response Team. Or, if you’d like to know more about the Team and the role you can play, we invite you to contact us.

Jean Crane is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors. For almost 20 years she has helped adults and children cope with issues related to self-esteem, family substance abuse, healthy relationships, depression, anxiety, and stress.

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