SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — An organization that’s been serving Siouxland since 2016 is expanding its services to help address mental health crises in the area.

The Siouxland Mental Health Center is now The Siouxland Mental Health Crisis Center and also serves as an access center. Access centers are a new program in Iowa that aim to intervene in times of severe or emergency mental health events.

A common example of a mental health crisis is suicidal thoughts.

“it ranges from people experiencing unmanageable symptoms of depression, unmanageable symptoms of anxiety, maybe some suicidal ideation thoughts, they don’t want to be alive, thoughts they want to end their life. you know, things like that,” said Lucas Mann, mental health counselor with the Siouxland Mental Health Crisis Center.

Many places are not equipped to deal with people with suicidal thoughts, Mann says. As a result, the Siouxland Mental Health Crisis Center receives plenty of people referred to them.

“We get a lot of referrals from either the hospital, the Sioux City Police Departments, a big one for us. We also get a lot of referrals from our own clinics, the Siouxland Mental Health Clinic,” Mann said.

The first person on the scene of a crisis is typically a police officer.  At times, there’s only so much they can do for people with mental health issues.

“So what the officer would do in the past would be to take that person to the hospital, so we’d offer’em a ride to the hospital and basically we would drop them off at the hospital and then we’d be done with them,” said Sergeant Thomas Gill, the community policing sergeant at The Sioux City Police Department.

However, times have changed. MCAT or Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, started in 2020 as a way to help people with mental health issues from anywhere. Sergeant Gill says since SCPD started their partnership with Siouxland Mental Health they’ve been able to help people going through a crisis efficiently.

“So what would happen is an officer would go there, they would have initial contact with that person that’s experiencing a mental health crisis, they would call MCAT. The MCAT team come to that location and then they would either speak to the person on scene or most likely take that person to the hospital, where they can some professional treatment,” said Sergeant Gill.

Mann said Siouxlanders can also call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 for more professional help.