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Shelter From the Storm 

If you're alone and confused, is there any way to get some help navigating the maelstrom of an ER? Behavioral Health Response Inc. (BHR) is a nonprofit service funded through the Missouri Department of Mental Health, and this is part of their mandate. "Most ERs, unless you're bleeding or your heart has stopped, triage everybody," notes BHR Vice President Barry Schapiro, "and people there because of a behavioral or mental problem get pushed to the bottom of the list." If you call BHR first, they'll send social workers or counselors to your home to do a face-to-face assessment, and if you do need to go to the ER, they'll accompany you. They've been around three years, so they're still educating people about their existence -- but they're already fielding about 8,000 calls a month.

The BHR hotline is 469-6644; outside the local area, call 800-811-4760.

-- Jeannette Batz

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