To the Editor:

As the representative from Sherman to the Northwest Regional Mental Health Board, I have become aware of the large number of agencies offering mental health services in our region of Connecticut.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, issues around emergency response to crisis, as well as prevention in an escalating emergency, have been the focus of efforts to make information available when there is a need.

An important service available to residents of Sherman, as well as our surrounding towns, is offered by Danbury Hospital and is accessible by simply dialing 211. The Crisis Intervention Service is available 24/7 to immediately respond. The mission of the service is "dedicated to providing emergency mental health evaluation, intervention, support and referral to adults and children experiencing symptoms of a psychiatric disorder, emotional distress, behavioral disfunction, or substance abuse."

The Crisis Intervention Service consists of two service components: Hospital based through the emergency department of Danbury Hospital and outreach services for adults aged 18 and older.

Crisis Intervention Services are also available to patients' families, community groups, provider agencies and persons who are victims of disaster, trauma or grief.

The hotline response time for outreach is remarkably swift, providing responders onsite within one and a half hours 87 percent of the time.

For adults and children aged 4 to 18 brought to the emergency room, response is immediate. A trained social worker is on hand and there is a psychiatrist available at all times.

The average time between referral from crisis intervention to the outpatient program is between one and four days. There is no waiting list.

Crisis intervention clinicians are available for persons in need or requesting substance treatment to help secure a detox or rehab bed facility including gull psychiatric assessment for persons with additional issues in order to create an appropriate plan for care.

To summarize: If you are facing an acute crisis involving a person with mental health, behavioral issues or drug abuse, help is minutes away.

Call the Crisis Intervention Service at Danbury Hospital using 211.

Nancy Astor-White