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Activities related to mental health challenges and substance use have become a focus of concern for businesses and residents of the Fourth Plain community. In order to address this situation, Columbia River Mental Health Services hosted a public forum where members of the community were invited to air their concerns and discuss solutions.

Columbia River’s Community Response Team, whose members actively address mental and behavioral health in the Fourth Plain Corridor, represented Columbia River at the forum, which drew some 45 members of the public. Representatives from partnering agencies, including the Vancouver Police Department, The Foundation, and the City of Vancouver HART Team, spoke alongside CRMHS Outreach Teams for a live Q&A with the public. Speakers also made presentations about fentanyl use and law enforcement response in the Fourth Plain area.

A shared effort to understand the community’s needs

Through informed discussions, shared experiences, and proactive dialogue, speakers at the forum raised awareness and promoted resources while strengthening positive relationships with the Fourth Plain business and residential community.

Ace Salu, CRMHS Community Service Supervisor CRT, shares, “We wanted the community to be represented at this forum, and we wanted to let others know that there are good people out there doing good work on Fourth Plain. Many organizations are working together to help people in our community, bring visibility to others, and provide access to people looking for help.”

He says, “The forum’s main goal was to provide people with access to communicate by creating a safe environment where people could express themselves, ask questions, and feel comfortable getting answers.”

The CRMHS Community Response Team (CRT) is relatively new in Vancouver, WA. CRT members are trained in de-escalation, immediate needs assessment, and resource navigation. Their mission is to respond promptly to the urgent mental health or substance use needs of community members. This team plays a crucial role in situations requiring professional intervention but may not yet require law enforcement or emergency services.

Within the first year of starting, the CRT made it their mission to build relationships and listen to the community’s needs.

Salu explains, “You must be entrenched and grow roots in the community to understand people’s needs. Building relationships with the community also allows CRMHS Outreach Teams to prevent crises from happening and educate folks on mental health and substance use challenges.”

CRMHS hopes to continue expanding its relationships in the community and wants to host more forums in the future. Together, we can continue to raise awareness and help as many people as possible.

If you, or someone you know, need assistance with de-escalation and resource navigation in the Fourth Plain Corridor, please call our Community Response Team at 360-993-3166.

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