I think we’re going to need a bigger boat

Over the past couple of years, Sierra Mental Wellness Group has seen significant growth. Not only in our number of employees and clinical sights, but more importantly in our ability to assist so many more people than before. At the end of our Fiscal Year (June 30, 2018) our 3 outpatient clinics registered over 5,000 clinical contacts. That is, we were able to place a clinician in front of someone in need of help over 5,000 times. Within our Crisis Teams, we conducted (in just 1 of our 4 Counties of responsibility) well over 6,000 Crisis Evaluations. Evaluations to assess for a person’s level of risk regarding a danger to self, danger to others or grave disability. Let that sink in. Over 6,000 people; mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Some of whom may very well have felt a loss of desire or ability to continue living.

The information above is offered admittedly with some conflicting emotions. Without a doubt, my respect for, and pride in, the staff with whom I have the privilege of working is unshakable. The level of commitment, dedication and sacrifice needed to achieve the outcomes they routinely achieve is truly remarkable. Appreciation extends beyond direct care staff to each and every person in the agency who does what is needed in order to support the safety, health and growth of others in our communities.

The concurrent emotional components that accompany the numbers sited involves some sadness and perhaps some anxiety when recognizing the profound pain and conflict that is often felt by the people we serve. The vast majority of people will never witness another at their absolute darkest times. Although the hardened veterans of the emergent responder professions will most likely adopt, quite understandably, a stoic posture, they will also, given the right conditions, admit that it takes a toll.

A mentor of mine years ago quoted a phrase in Latin that I have since forgotten but the loose translation is “I respond even though I am changed in the process.”

We might need a bigger boat but one could never hope for a better crew.