New Resources for States on Behavioral Health Crisis Management

Reforming States Group State Health Policy Leadership Mental Health

There are increasing demands on states to provide and finance mental health services. To meet those demands, it will be important for states to build a strong continuum of programs to prevent or identify mental health issues as they arise and triage people appropriately, as well as treat serious mental health conditions.

In 2019, the Reforming States Group learned about innovative approaches that states like Arizona are taking to manage their inpatient services capacity as one part of that continuum. A key feature of those state responses is the development of crisis diversion systems that mobilize community, law enforcement, and health and mental health organizations to identify people who are experiencing a mental health emergency and get them the right care in the right place in a timely manner. In this way, crisis diversion becomes part of a stronger integrated system of prevention, treatment, and long-term support. Done right, it can help prevent tragedies, incarceration, and long-term and repeat hospitalizations.

To help states and communities develop and spread crisis programs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has published National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis: A Best Practices Toolkit. The toolkit addresses key principles and program design issues: What are the core crisis services? What are the key components of these services? Who delivers crisis services (including the role of peer supports)? How do we to pay for these services?

The Milbank Memorial Fund will work with the Reforming State Group in 2020 to identify successful state models for implementing mental health diversion programs, including crisis services.