National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

Crisis Services: Meeting Needs, Saving Lives

In 2017, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) partnered in advocating for policy makers to consider what it would take to look “Beyond Beds” in state hospitals as a single solution to all the challenges and instead develop a path toward a robust continuum of accessible, effective psychiatric care. Now, three years later, NASMHPD and SAMHSA highlight the first point of entry into that continuum of care- to prevent and manage crises in a way that offers an immediately accessible, interconnected, effective and just continuum of crisis behavioral health services. By enhancing crisis response, community needs can be met, and lives can be saved with services that reduce suicides and opioid-related deaths, divert individuals from incarceration and unnecessary hospitalization and accurately assess and stabilize and refer individuals with mental health, substance use and other behavioral health challenges. This paper, Crisis Services: Meeting Needs, Saving Lives, furthers the Beyond Beds strategy by describing this vision. By knitting together several bodies of work on crisis services, it sets the stage for the next iteration of a national dialogue for developing and expanding that much needed continuum of quality mental health and substance use care for all who need it, when they need it.