Urgent Care for Mental Health Crises Helps Stop the Stigma

Amy Barczy

| 3 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored content at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Prior to her time at Blue Cross from 2019-2024, she was a statewide news reporter for MLive.com. She has a decade of storytelling experience in local news media markets including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.

If you break your leg, you’re not going to wait to get it fixed until your next annual checkup with your primary care doctor. You’re going to get help immediately to address the crisis – from the emergency room, or by calling 911.
If you are in a mental health crisis – like considering thoughts of suicide or harm to yourself or others – you also need help immediately. Waiting a week until you meet with your therapist again is too long. But the help you need doesn’t always have to come from the emergency room at a hospital.
“People with mental health conditions often don’t receive the appropriate response when experiencing a crisis,” said Carol Zuniga, CEO at Hegira Health. “We’re here to help them — and their families — get the right care when needed.”
Hegira Health is one of a growing number of community-based providers working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network to provide crisis services for mental health issues to ensure patients are getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Hegira Health’s COPE (Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies) serves patients in Wayne County with on-site emergency and urgent walk-in mental health care. This approach can help patients find treatment faster and avoid unnecessary hospital stays.
At Hegira Health psychiatric urgent care, the length of stay from start to finish is typically under five hours.
“We immediately assess a patient experiencing a crisis through a multidisciplinary approach, which leads to a treatment plan and placement in the appropriate level of care,” Zuniga said.
Other services available through Hegira Health COPE include mobile care teams who go to a patient’s home, work or anywhere in the community to offer services and follow-up care. A residential treatment facility is also available for patients needing more intensive care and recovery.
At times, individuals undergoing mental health crises may come into contact with local police departments. Hegira Health COPE has mobile crisis teams that works with these law enforcement agencies to provide community-based crisis interventions to try and de-escalate the situation, Zuniga said.
By treating mental health crises with the same urgency and specialization as physical health issues, Hegira Health is working to break down barriers to behavioral health care.
“We want to stop the stigma so people with mental health conditions feel comfortable getting the care they need,” Zuniga said. “Ignoring mental health can worsen their condition or adversely affect their physical health.”
Learn more online about crisis services available through Hegira Health COPE, or by calling 1-844-296-COPE.

Call 988

You can call or text 988 if you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health or substance use crisis. The number is an easy way to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Find a mental health professional 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network can help members find an in-network mental health professional by calling behavioral health access lines listed below:
PPO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-762-2382
  • A free and confidential resource that’s just a call away when you need immediate support. Behavioral health professionals answer, 24/7.
HMO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-482-5982
  • Connect with a behavioral health clinician if you need help finding a mental health or substance use provider.
  • Behavioral health clinicians are available for routine assistance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For urgent concerns after hours, clinicians are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Learn more about mental health and options you have as a member to seek help at bcbsm.com/mentalhealth. Members can also learn more about available crisis programs here on bcbsm.com.

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