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Social workers busy helping families with mobile crisis response team

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Social workers are on the move in Kalamazoo County.

A Mobile Crisis Response program has trained professionals visiting schools, homes and hospitals at a moment's notice.

Newschannel 3 went behind the scenes of the crisis unit Wednesday.

This is the only crisis response program in West Michigan that helps just kids and families.

You can reach out and talk to someone right away. I think it's a tremendous help to the community, said Program Manager Susan Davis. 

The crisis unit gets a call and immediately starts assessing what kind of help is needed.

A team then goes out to a home, school or hospital.

A child is thinking about suicide, suicide attempts, physical aggression, serious depression, family conflict are probably the most common reasons we're being called, Davis said. 

Once at the scene, they determine what kind of help the child or family needs, whether it be counseling or hospitalization.

Responders work closely with law enforcement to make sure they're not put in a dangerous situation.

A lot of time having that party come in is very calming and can help deescalate things immediately, Davis said.

Since the program started 14 years ago, their calls for help have doubled.

When our program first started in 2000, we had 509 calls that first year. In 2013 we had 1,007, Davis said.

She said part of that is the economic downturn putting stress on families.

During that time, families struggled, and how do I get those services. I can't afford to pay for them, Davis said. 

Mobile Crisis Response is funded by Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and works out of Family & Children Services.

Davis said the free service is so crucial because it offers quick help for families during scary situations.

I really see it as a precaution service, almost. Because we can prevent things from getting to the point where someone requires hospitalization, Davis said.

To contact the crisis team call 269-373-6000.