The Frontline Crisis Academy was founded to provide various levels of high quality trainings, ignite passion for mobile crisis work, and raise confidence in all individuals seeking to meet people where they are in a time of need.
Across the country 988 is here and states are rapidly adopting new legislation in high volume. Law enforcement is shying away or being pulled from the front lines of emergency mental health calls due to fear and scrutiny; and a more appropriate response is being implemented. In many cities, mental health workers are being embedded in law enforcement, EMS or fire departments for a co-response to calls. Whether a crisis worker is going to a scene alone, with a mental health partner, or in a co-response fashion with EMS, fire, or law enforcement, training for these new mental health crisis “first responders” is scarce. For success to be fully witnessed, crisis workers require new skills and training not taught in graduate programs. Knowing how to safely, skillfully, and confidently work alone on a scene or alongside other first responders is not innate. The pressing need is to be efficient and effective, to keep ED and jail transports low and safety high!
Mobile crisis and co-response teams are forming at a rapid rate and over the next decade the demand for crisis workers will drastically increase. Crisis workers possess a different fire within and they choose a courageous path that many in mental health will not walk. However, there is a desperate need for training so they do not enter the trenches unskilled or without knowledge. Core techniques for responding on scene are vital. Efficiency - learning to work skillfully, think quickly, and use local resources to avoid transports. Safety - learning to stay alert, manage surroundings, and know when a situation is not safe. Most of all, build Confidence and pride in the specialty of crisis work in the area of behavioral health. Burnout in this field is high, but if the essential crisis skills can be learned and confidence instilled, perhaps burnout can decrease, workforce can strengthen, and retention can be built.
As long as she can remember, Michelle has always had curiosity for human behavior. In 1999 she proudly received her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology from Western Carolina University. Her first position was as crisis responder in South Carolina. The work was energizing and an instant fit.
In 2001 Michelle took a job as a crisis clinician in Indianapolis. With amazing mentors, law enforcement and EMS guidance, and a team she loved, Michelle found her area of expertise ~ crisis ~ working in the trenches! During the day Michelle taught classes in the Psychology Department of Indiana University/IUPUI and in the evening worked on the crisis team. These two roles allowed for teaching, continual learning, professional growth, and perfecting the skills needed for crisis work. Working daily with EMS and law enforcement, she met her husband; tenured paramedic, police officer, and tactical medic on the SWAT team. Their lives were full of 911 calls, high adrenaline, and Michelle learned more about the world of first response than she ever imagined.
In December, 2009, Michelle and her family relocated to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Here she was asked to join a foundation that was forming a new agency in the Roaring Fork Valley. With crisis as the agency’s focus, Michelle brought her skills to the table. The Aspen Hope Center opened June 1, 2010, and she was one of the first two mobile crisis clinicians on the team. Again, doing crisis work and educating law enforcement, Michelle found herself back with her two passions. In 2013 she accepted the position of Executive Director and has continued to train, form partnerships, and help others around the state stand up mobile crisis teams.
With twenty-three years in the field, Michelle has seen little in the way of training for crisis workers. She created a 90-day training program for the Hope Center clinicians in 2014 and kept her eye on national opportunities. When nothing seemed to be surfacing, Michelle founded Frontline Crisis Academy in the summer of 2021. Thus far she has worked with staff from twenty-seven agencies in the State of Washington, providing training in mobile crisis. In June of 2021, she presented at the 2nd Annual Co-Responder Conference, and in September of 2021, spoke at the Minnesota Crisis Symposium in St. Cloud. Michelle will always be a crisis clinician at heart and will jump to work “in the trenches” and train others to do so with efficiency, confidence, and pride!