Supporting clients in crisis through our Crisis Stabilization Unit

young man

Momentum’s Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) is a voluntary alternative to intense crisis support and we are proud to celebrate the programs four-year anniversary this month. 

CSU plays an important role in Momentum’s community of care, providing individuals in mental or emotional crisis with immediate support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a stay of less than a day. Last year, 98% of clients who accessed CSU avoided hospitalization and remained within the community or a voluntary form of care. 

We talked with the Manager of CSU, Bindu Khurana-Brown, to learn more about CSU, the challenges the program and clients have faced during the pandemic, what she enjoys about her work, and how people can access help.

Tell us more about CSU.

The CSU provides an option to an individual who is struggling in their current situation/environment with either the symptoms of their mental or substance abuse needs that could result in cravings, difficulties with sleeping, eating and ability to regulate their own mood state without support. 

We are staffed with clinicians and nurses to provide additional layers of support to the varying aspects of the human condition. The CSU is not able to provide immediate case management or placement support, but we can provide referrals to these options within the community.

An individual must meet basic requirements, including being 18 years of age or older, cannot have private insurance, must be able to carry out basic functions such as using the restroom and take a shower independently, and does not currently meet the requirements for a higher level of care such as hospitalization to remain safe or medically stable. 

What challenges have the CSU program and clients faced during the pandemic?  

The pandemic has been difficult not only as a community, but within the walls of the CSU. Our doors have remained open with staff on site since the start of COVID-19 which takes a toll on the energy of a team. We were often wading through uncertainty not knowing if the client who was admitted who began coughing was going to spread COVID throughout the team. Similarly, if a colleague sneezed, should they go home immediately? 

Through it all, we have remained a staff of dedicated professionals here to help those who had extremely limited options, especially in the early days of the pandemic when many services were shut down. With much of the workforce going remote, many of our clients did not see their case manager or doctor for 6-8 months, many continue to only be able to access psychiatry through remote options. 

Through it all, the CSU continued its foundational support of meeting clients where they are, offering empathy and support, and aiding in their ability to regulate their emotional state. For some it has meant having a person they can speak with in the same physical space as them. For others, it is watching a basketball game on a Tuesday evening and being able to block out the realities of the world. 

For many of our clients, their addictive urges got the best of them and when they left their family home in search of getting their needs met, families would not let them return for fears of COVID, resulting in their first instance of homelessness. As our knowledge and awareness have evolved over these two years, so have the staff in terms of engagement, resources and treating everyone who walks through our doors as someone who deserves a chance to tell their story.

What is one thing you enjoy about your work? 

It is certainly never boring! I enjoy that we get to see therapy delivered in a non-traditional way. Much of the time we consider therapeutic interventions to be over a lengthy period with formalized settings of sitting in a room for 50 minutes for several weeks. Here at the CSU, we get to bring therapy to life. Staff can see that an interaction of 5 minutes can provide sustainable change and the ability to spend time with someone for eight hours is a way that we rarely get to provide interventions. It is important to me that our field continues to adapt, and this work allows a generation of new as well as seasoned professionals to shift the way we look at service delivery in a rapid pace.

What is a challenge in your work? 

The work is hard. Some days you don’t feel that you have done anything to help anyone and though the short-term model is exciting, it is far from traditional views of behavioral health. We see people in crisis which can mean on their worst days, and it can be easy to assume nothing gets better and life sucks. Keeping the energy and hope of the team is important to remember that when we don’t see someone for weeks or months, it may be a signal of improvement in their life and functioning that they don’t need our level of service at this moment. Like if we see someone regularly for two weeks to a month, crisis doesn’t resolve with a snap of the fingers. It can take time to get back to a balanced state.  Balancing both ideals can be a tricky component of the work to keep us all afloat.

How can people get help or get involved with CSU? 

Accessing help can be done by giving us a call at 408-207-0560 x1 or ringing our doorbell. People come to get help from resources in the community who link them to us or they just show up, letting us know how they need support. 

The best way to get involved is to consider us for donations.  We can always use clothing, especially sizes Large and above, cell phone chargers and headphones. We do not currently have volunteer options due to the structure of the program however support to help individuals with their basic needs being met are always appreciated!