Mental health organizations have long been pushing for the resources to provide immediate care to people experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The dollars are finally starting to flow.
BY JON HARRIS
July 11, 2022
A big investment in behavioral health
Mental health organizations have long been pushing for the resources to provide immediate care to people experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
The dollars are finally starting to flow.
Consider two announcements in recent months from Gov. Kathy Hochul:
• In early February, she announced the availability of more than $100 million over five years for 12 new “Intensive Crisis Stabilization Centers” across the state.
• Then, in a related announcement early this month, Hochul announced that the state has $71 million available to develop 12 new “Supportive Crisis Stabilization Centers” in New York.
The centers – there’s a difference between the two, which we’ll get to momentarily – all fit into a comprehensive crisis response system the state is developing, one that will be available to all New Yorkers, regardless of their ability to pay.
The difference between the two centers
Glenn Liebman, the longtime CEO of the nonprofit Mental Health Association in New York State, thinks of the crisis stabilization centers as urgent care centers for people with mental health or addiction needs.
As for the difference between the intensive and supportive centers, it is just as it sounds.
The intensive crisis stabilization centers will offer many services,including medication treatment for the management of substance use and mental health symptoms. The supportive centers, meanwhile, are “similar to a living room model,” and offer walk-in services and emphasize peer support that is resilience and recovery oriented, according to state documents.
There will be an intensive and a supportive crisis center in each of the nine upstate regions, including the five-county Western New York region, and three of each in New York City.
The development of the intensive centers is further ahead. The state issued a request for proposal on the intensive centers in late January, with proposals due in early June and awards set to be announced any day now.
The state just started seeking proposals for the supportive centers in late June, with award notifications anticipated in early November.
How does it all fit?
To explain how the state’s system will work, Liebman thinks of it like legs of a stool.
The first leg, he said, is the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in which phone providers must connect callers who dial 988 to the lifeline, starting on July 16.
While some people might be able to get the help they need over the phone, Liebman said there also will be a group of people who may need the care of a crisis stabilization center – the second leg of the stool.
For those who can’t get to a center, there’s the third leg of the stool: mobile crisis teams.
Last, he said, is the community services and support a person needs.
Liebman said he doesn’t see this as a panacea, but it is a step in the right direction to provide the immediate care many people need, while diverting away from unneeded emergency room visits.
He expects that most of the funding available for the crisis stabilization centers will go toward staffing.
“At the end of the day, it’s about your workforce, and if your workforce is not well funded, then it leads to bad outcomes,” he said.
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