Therapists to unite in pro bono effort for mental health

A new day may be breaking — just the crack of dawn, perhaps, but light nonetheless — for people who suffer mental health and chemical dependency crises in Clallam County.

Mental health therapists soon may volunteer their services to people who are having behavioral emergencies, thanks to a coalition of organizations called Collaboration Works.

Inspired by Prevention Works, which fights child abuse and neglect, and by Pro Bono Lawyers of Clallam County, which provides civil legal services to poor people, Collaboration Works is recruiting therapists and clinicians who will offer their time.

People in crises presently have few places to turn in Clallam County. And police, if these people pose dangers to themselves or others, have few choices but to jail them on minor charges.

In the past, agencies that serve brain-disordered people haven’t always worked well together. Rather, they’ve competed for shares of shrinking public funds.

“We can’t knock those walls down entirely,” said Bronson West, social worker with the state Department of Social and Health Services, “but we want to develop windows and doors.”

Adds Laurey Hansen-Carl, executive director of Healthy Families of Clallam County, “If we can’t provide services ourselves, we can help the client find who can.”

Recruiting professionals

The system isn’t ready yet to make referrals, but network members are recruiting professionals to weave a safety net for persons with behavioral emergencies — “to bring together people who are willing to give of their time,” said Florence Bucierka of the Clallam County Health and Human Services Department.

Licensed professionals and other people who want to help should call Bucierka at 360-417-2366 or West at 360-565-2262.

They also can e-mail Bucierka at [email protected] or West at [email protected]

They also are welcome to attend a meeting of Collaboration Works at noon the first Tuesday of each month in the basement of Olympic Medical Center, 939 Caroline Street, Port Angeles.

Collaboration Works wants to spread its net before Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics open its clinic for uninsured patients at 909 Georgiana Street, Port Angeles, later this spring.

The clinic expects that as many as 30 percent of its clients will need mental health services.

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