When it comes to addressing the need for immediate and comprehensive mental health services in the community, many individuals don’t know who to reach out to or what resources are available. A common perception held by many is that the only option for immediate help is a visit to the local emergency department. What you might not know is that the Finger Lakes Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) has been operating a mobile crisis outreach service based out of Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic for 20 years and the main purpose of this service is to meet the needs of the individual in the community.

Beginning in March 2018, CPEP partnered with the law enforcement and 911 Dispatch in Ontario County to provide a collaborative, expedited response for mental health crisis calls (from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week). This co-response allows law enforcement to ensure the safety of the individual and the community, and allows the mental health professional to assess level of care needs. Both parties assist the individual in the creation of a safe plan and linkage to appropriate services and resources. In most cases, this can occur without having to come to the hospital!

This program has resulted in substantial reduction of ED visits and has produced positive change in community perception of both mental health professionals and law enforcement. Most importantly, however, the collaboration has allowed community members to maintain their dignity, respect, and privacy while receiving needed quality care and access to services.

The Finger Lakes CPEP serves Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates counties. We are proud to say that we are the only rural area CPEP in New York State involved in this type of collaborative initiative, and we could not have accomplished this without the amazing support of law enforcement and our Directors of Community Services.  In the coming months, we plan to expand our CPEP team so that we can extend this initiative into the other counties we serve. We will also be providing this service on the overnights, making this a true 24/7 offering. 

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health services, please call us at 315-462-1080, 211 Life Line, or 911 if emergent.

Bethany Felicita, an Ontario County resident, is manager of the Finger Lakes Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP).