The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recently awarded 13 grants to communities to create new and enhance existing mobile crisis response teams. The teams will respond to mental health and substance use crises in high-need areas, in coordination with local law enforcement.
“Everyone experiencing a mental health crisis in America should have access to rapidly responsive, culturally competent care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “These grants will further expand America’s crisis response system and get people the help they need.”
Recipients of this funding are required to build crisis system capacity by providing post-crisis follow-up, developing and implementing protocols for coordination with law enforcement, providing evidence-based crisis training to providers and first responders, mapping community crisis systems, and improving use of data. Grantees may also support a range of other allowable activities that enhance their crisis systems. Taken together, these efforts ensure that people in crisis have timely access to trained mental health professionals and help ease the burden on law enforcement, strengthening public health, public safety, and public trust.
“The expansion of mobile crisis response across the country is a big part of our efforts to achieve comprehensive, responsive crisis care services,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and leader of SAMHSA Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D. “Responding effectively to behavioral health crises in our communities will involve strong partnerships among first responders, community-based support services, and 988 Lifeline call centers.”
Earlier in May, HHS announced more than $200 million in new funding opportunities for the 988 Lifeline to states, territories, and tribes to improve and enhance local response and follow-up services. HHS has also taken important steps to support the development of crisis systems by implementing a new community-based mobile crisis intervention option under Medicaid, as authorized by the American Rescue Plan and made permanent under the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023. These developments are only the latest in HHS’s concerted efforts to strengthen the crisis services continuum and maximize the impact of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
In 2021, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 46.3 million people aged 12 or older, or 16.5% of the population, met the applicable DSM-5 criteria for having a substance use disorder in the past year, including 29.5 million people who were classified as having an alcohol use disorder and 24 million people who were classified as having a drug use disorder. Additionally, about 12.3 million people ages 18 or older, about 4.8% of the population, had serious thoughts of suicide, and among adolescents ages 12 to 17, about 3.3 million, 12.7%, had serious thoughts of suicide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2021, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 14 and 25 to 34 years and more than 107,000 people died from drug overdoses.
Studies have shown that after speaking with a trained crisis counselor, most 988 Lifeline callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. To learn how to get support for mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.