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Gillaspy provides crisis care at psychiatric facility

A Lyon senior catered to the needs of those in crisis this summer at a short-term mental health facility in Little Rock.

Emma Gillaspy, of Conway, worked with Dr. Melissa Zielinski at the Psychiatric Research Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Most of her work was with the crisis stabilization unit (CSU). Clients were brought to the CSU by one of the many mental health centers around the state or by a police department in the area, and Gillaspy was responsible for making follow-up calls to clients after they left the facility.

“We did follow-ups at 7 days, 30 days, and 90 days to check on their mental and physical health, along with any medical procedures or criminal activity since they were released from the CSU.”

Gillaspy worked with research project programs and helped make the follow-up process an online option for clients who wouldn’t answer the phone calls.

“Though I wasn’t able to talk face to face with those clients, I got to talk to a good amount of clients on the phone. Being able to see how they are doing and how they have progressed was super interesting to me. My favorite part was just being able to talk with them.”

Gillaspy came across Zielinski’s lab while researching potential internships.

“I would like to work in a hospital setting, and I thought this would be a good fit for the summer.”

She applied lessons from her psychology research methods class while doing online research at the institute. The follow-ups are based off surveys, said Gillaspy, and her courses provided background knowledge about what kind of survey she was inputting and why she was asking clients those types of questions.

She credits Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Rose Danek’s biopsychology class and Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Robert Miller’s abnormal psychology class with equipping her for the internship.

“It was helpful to have a basis on what mental health disorders were and the symptoms of those disorders. That way, I could have an idea before I called of what the clients were feeling and why the drugs they had taken affected the diagnosed disorder.”

Her experience will go hand-in-hand with the psychology internship class she will take this fall. Gillaspy said she used to think she would hate doing research as a career, but the internship has made her reconsider.

“It gave me a little glance at what research looks like and how it’s set up. It really got me thinking about doing my own research here at Lyon!”

The experience also showed her how much income can affect regular contact with mental healthcare, and tapped into a passion for helping those with limited access to it.

“It is so needed, and, without places like the CSU, they may never get the help or resources they need to get better,” she said.