Compass Health and the City of Edmonds on Wednesday announced the rollout of the Community Transitions program, which includes an embedded mental health professional that will join city staff and law enforcement to jointly conduct community outreach.
According to a joint announcement from Compass Health and the City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation, Cultural and Human Services Department, the program is designed to provide much-needed resources for at-risk individuals in the community, with opportunities to coordinate outreach across the South County region.
“While Edmonds is thriving, our community still faces the rising need for mental health and support services,” Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson said in the announcement. “This is a time for action, and we’re proud to be taking a solutions-oriented approach with Compass Health and our new social worker.”
Community Transitions teams offered by Compass connect individuals with a spectrum of services, including mental health and substance use treatment, medical care, shelter assistance and food vouchers. The effort helps to reduce reliance on law enforcement, local emergency rooms and other emergency services, and to more sustainably manage health and safety needs through collaboration, outreach and engagement.
“By meeting individuals where they’re at and connecting them with resources, our aim is to shift away from high-frequency use of emergency services and toward more appropriate, recovery-oriented pathways,” said Charissa Westergard, director of health care integration at Compass Health, which developed Community Transitions. “Together, we’re working to address needs in the community by offering flexible, holistic solutions to people facing mental health, substance use, or housing challenges.”
The Edmonds City Council approved funding for the program in 2021. Compass Health’s Community Transitions professional Erin Nathan recently began traveling throughout the Edmonds community with members of Edmonds Police Department to engage in outreach to at-risk individuals. Nathan brings more than 15 years of experience counseling adults with mental health needs, and helping to assist with housing, employment and other support.
Compass Health first implemented the Community Transitions model in Snohomish County in 2016, through a partnership with South County Fire. It expanded to a second partnership with the Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace Police Departments in 2020, both of which were sponsored by a grant from the Verdant Health Commission. The organization is also establishing a new Community Transitions partnership with the Mukilteo Police Department, which expands the program to five area communities.
According to Wednesday’s announcement, the program is one tool in the behavioral health provider’s range of community response services. In Snohomish County that also includes crisis intervention and stabilization through the Snohomish County Triage Center, located in Everett.
“The Community Transitions program is one of the cornerstones of our spectrum of community response services at Compass Health,” Westergard said. “Our goal is to provide quality services that result in better outcomes and support a positive experience for clients; and because individuals are accessing the right types of services for their needs, we are able to use resources more effectively for more people.”
To learn more about Compass Health Community Transitions, visit compasshealth.org/services/community-transitions/.