Do you believe in signs? Shortly after the SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care opened, a middle-aged man walked in asking for help. For months, he unsuccessfully tried to find a psychiatrist or therapist to treat his increasing depression. He felt hopeless and had contemplated suicide that very morning.

He felt like a higher power was giving him a sign that help was available when he heard a commercial for SSM Health’s new Behavioral Health Urgent Care on the radio. Early the next morning, he drove to the Behavioral Health Urgent Care at SSM Health DePaul Hospital and a team of mental health professionals initiated treatment.

He told the staff that the team had saved his life. Had it not been for the commercial airing when it had, he felt he would have ended his life. He was immensely grateful for the immediate attention to his needs and the continuing support he received.

Emergency departments have long been the default access point for mental health care, but they are not the ideal setting for patients experiencing a psychiatric crisis. The first of its kind in the St. Louis region, the SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care has created a new access point for adults and children seeking help for any number of mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and suicidality.

Since opening in 2020, people of all ages and backgrounds have sought help at SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care. Everyone who comes through the door has a story to tell, a need that is critical to their wellbeing and happiness. Sometimes, the simple act of walking through the door is the biggest step someone can take.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “more than half of people with mental illness do not receive help for their disorders. Often, people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or fear of losing their jobs and livelihood. That is because stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against people with mental illness is still very much a problem.” The staff at the SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care understand these concerns and are working to diminish the stigma around seeking mental health treatment.

On a morning like many others, the team at the SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care greeted a family as they entered at the front desk. The tension was noticeable and unforgiving. After a brief check-in, the young man in the group declared for his family and everyone to hear, “I don’t need help, I don’t need to be here.” He had drawn a line, and he was not going to cross it.

Ambivalence regarding mental health treatment is a feeling that many people have when reaching out for help. It is natural for someone to feel ambivalent about sharing their emotions and struggles. By walking into the urgent care, this young man was already taking steps to address and care for his mental wellness. He needed to know someone cared and could provide help.

One of the nurses pulled him aside and said, “You all have already come this far. Your family is here with you. At least come back and chat with us for a bit. Is that okay?” Eventually, he agreed. After a clinical assessment and psychiatric consultation, it was determined he needed additional care, and was admitted to SSM Health’s Behavioral Health inpatient program.

His family was overcome with emotion and a sense of gratitude. The journey was not over, but their loved one was getting the help he needed.

A coalition of ten community partners work alongside SSM Health Behavioral Health to assist patients to reach their wellness goals and better their mental health. The partners are Behavioral Health Response (BHR), Behavioral Health Network (BHN), BJC Behavioral Health, Compass Health Center, COMTREA, Inc., Hopewell Center, Independence Center, Places for People, Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH), Provident Behavioral Health, and Queen of Peace Center.

About the Author

The SSM Health Behavioral Health Urgent Care serves patients five and older and is located at SSM Health DePaul Hospital, 12355 DePaul Drive Suite 150, Bridgeton, MO, 63044. The Behavioral Health Urgent Care can be reached at 314.344.7200 and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Patients in need of immediate medical attention should go to the nearest emergency room.