United Way Fox Cities

A new approach to mental health – and it’s working

We are ready to share some incredible strides our community has made regarding mental health – just in time for World Mental Health Day. 💚

Results are now available for two projects that United Way Fox Cities has funded: Community Crisis Response (CCR Team) and the Mental Health Navigator.  Keep reading to learn more about these innovative community solutions in the traditional response to mental health emergencies.

About the Mental Health Navigator:

The pilot for the Mental Health Navigator started with N.E.W. Mental Health Connection in collaboration with VPI. After the first year, VPI took the program in-house.

The Navigator program partners with the Ascension Employee Assistance Program to provide “bridge appointments.” Time slots are set aside for individuals with urgent needs, bridging a gap when there is no time to waste.

Highlights since the Mental Health Navigator’s inception:

  • The Navigator has made 300 contacts with community members.
  • 254 individuals have been connected to the Navigator from outside referrals, including the Menasha Police Department, City of Appleton Police Department, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, and 211.
  • 3 out of 7 bridge clients have been connected to care with long-term counseling facilities. 
  • In June 2023 alone, 75% of individuals were connected to care. 57% of these referrals are still attending their appointments regularly.

About Community Crisis Response (CCR Team):

This initiative is a partnership among Outagamie County Health and Human Services, the City of Appleton Police Department, and NEW Mental Health Connection.

As one partner aptly said, “It has been a complete change in how we respond to mental health crisis situations.” When an individual is a danger to themselves or others, law enforcement is sent to the scene to assess the situation. If the individual needs further assessment and help, Outagamie County Crisis becomes involved to jointly determine if that person needs an emergency detention (Chapter 51).

The CCR Team provides a mental health professional on the front end rather than the back end of these situations — saving time and community resources and, most importantly, improving the outcome for individuals in crisis.

Highlights since the CCR Team’s inception:

  • The amount of time an emergency detention takes has decreased by 70%.
  • Since 2022 there has been a 27% decrease in the number of emergency detentions.
  • Less mental health emergency calls have led to jail outcomes.
  • More individuals in crisis have been referred to the appropriate service — and more individuals have been voluntarily admitted to care.

Now what?

The Mental Health Navigator will continue its important work, consistently connecting 70-80% of referrals per month to mental health care.

Community Crisis Response was so successful that the co-response team model will be expanded county-wide in 2024. In 2025, the entire budget will be expensed through Outagamie County.

Why is this important? These programs are improving the lives of our neighbors while consistently saving time, tax dollars, and access to vital community resources — a testament to United Way Fox Cities-supported strategies leading to long-lasting change. Your continued support is invaluable to ensure the right professionals are in the right place at the right time.

Want to read more about how your gift positively impacts the Fox Cities? Visit our partners and grants page and our most recent impact report.

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