Nosheen Hydari is being honored as a Gun Violence Prevention Champion of Change.
It’s 3 a.m. and I receive a call from our crisis line about an inner-city Chicago family with a teenage son who has threatened his mother with a weapon. It’s my job to assess the level of danger in the home. So, I immediately call the mother to understand her safety concerns. Next, I notify my on-call supervisor and together we develop a plan to reduce the level of threat and ensure the son gets to a safe place for a face-to-face assessment.
This is crisis intervention. And as a crisis therapist, I use my training to de-escalate the crisis and ensure the safety of all those involved. I go into some of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago to meet people where they’re at, such as hospitals, residential and group home treatment facilities, and the detention center. This means that I listen to people’s stories—the stories that have led them into crisis. I see people in their most difficult times and offer compassion, validation and solution-focused attention at moments of deep vulnerability.
I’m a crisis therapist at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), a leading community mental health agency in Illinois that provides a wide range of mental health services, crisis intervention, prevention services, parent education, and substance use treatment to at-risk children, adults and families.
In my role, I provide crisis assessments for hundreds of Chicago children and adults in severe psychiatric distress. I am trained to make an immediate decision about an appropriate level of care for the person in distress, which is either inpatient psychiatric hospitalization or outpatient services.
Through early crisis intervention, we have the opportunity to disrupt a potential threat of violence from escalating into a serious incident of harm to someone. The earlier people call to report a crisis—the better chance there is of stopping an act of violence.
We can all make an impact in our communities by helping to increase the availability of mental health services and public education programs, and raising overall awareness. C4 offers a public-education program called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is an evidence-based, in-person training program that provides individuals and groups with the skills necessary to identify, understand and respond to someone who is experiencing a mental health problem or mental health crisis.
Gun violence prevention happens through early crisis intervention, access to mental health services and public education programs. Anyone who cares to get involved can be part of the solution to help people who are at the front lines of violence. Those who volunteer time to mentor at-risk youth are part of the solution. Those who support programs that lower violence and positively impact the communities are part of the solution. Direct service workers—counselors, teachers, mentors, coaches, organizers and advocates are all part of the solution.
All of these efforts continue to create positive change in our communities, starting from the foundation and building up.
Nosheen Hydari, AMFT, is a Crisis Therapist for the Emergency Services On-Call team at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4). C4 is a leading community mental health agency in Illinois, providing a comprehensive range of mental health services, crisis intervention and substance use treatment to more than 10,000 low-income children, adults, and families each year.