The Alabama Crisis System of Care

No individual is immune from the impact of untreated behavioral health needs. Each year, there are thousands of preventable tragedies that may be addressed with proper mental health resources and access to care. To offer innovative and accessible solutions, the Alabama Crisis System of Care:

  • Expands access to care
  • Assists individuals before a civil commitment may occur
  • Reduces the number of arrests
  • Decreases frequency of admissions to hospitals
  • Includes someone to talk to, someone to come to you, and someplace to go
  • Offers the right care, at the right time, at the right place
  • Assists individuals in crisis to achieve stability
  • Promotes sustained recovery
  • Provides connections and referrals to agencies and organizations
  • Includes 9-8-8, Mobile Crisis Teams, and Crisis Centers
  • Maximizes opportunities for the behavioral health workforce

Gov. Kay Ivey, the Alabama State Legislature, and the Alabama Department of Mental Health have funded four Crisis Centers [MAP] which offer services in staged levels.  These centers improve access to behavioral healthcare services for individuals who are experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis, and they aid jails and hospitals throughout the state by alleviating the burden to house and care for individuals in need of services.

ADMH thanks Governor Ivey and legislative investment, which helps to expand and transform the Alabama crisis system of care, dramatically lower healthcare costs, reinvest state dollars, achieve better health outcomes, and improve life for those with acute mental health needs.

9-8-8 and Rural Crisis Care

In addition to creating Crisis  Centers, the Alabama Crisis System of Care includes the implementation of 9-8-8 and mobile crisis services throughout the state.

The purpose of the 9-8-8 Comprehensive Behavioral Health Crisis Communication System Commission (typically called the 9-8-8 commission), created by Act 2021-359, is to study and provide recommendations for the implementation of the 9-8-8 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services before it is nationally implemented on July 16, 2022, as required by Public Law No: 116-172. Click here to read the report by the 9-8-8 Commission.

Information on 9-8-8 and communication on the topic can be found here.

In Fiscal Year 2021, five community mental health centers across the state received funding to increase their rural and mobile crisis care services:

  • Cahaba Center for Mental Health
  • Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center
  • Southwest Alabama Behavioral Health Care Systems
  • WellStone Behavioral Health (Cullman)
  • West Alabama Mental Health Center

Also, two additional CMHC's were awarded funds in FY21 through federal ARPA and Block Grant awards:

  • South Central Mental Health Center
  • Spectracare Health


The goals for mobile crisis services are aligned with the overarching goals of crisis care, which are to reduce the burden on EDs/Hospitals, reduce burden on Law Enforcement/Jails, and improve access for the “right care, right time, right place.”Each center will have a mobile crisis team as part of mobile crisis services. The community mental health centers may also include in their crisis services: a co-response with law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, crisis peer support, crisis case management, regional call centers, and respite options.

School-Based Mental Health

The Alabama Department of Mental Health has expanded the School-Based Mental Health Services Program since its inception in 2010. The goal of the School-Based Mental Health Services (SBMH) collaboration between the Alabama Department of Mental Health and its providers and the Alabama State Department of Education and Alabama’s local education agencies is to ensure that children and adolescents, both general and special education, enrolled in local school systems have access to high-quality mental health prevention, early intervention and treatment services. The aim is to achieve greater integration of mental health services between the mental health centers and public schools and to increase the utilization of evidence-based practices. The integration of these services will foster continuity of care and ensure sustained gains in academic and developmental domains for children, youth, and their families.

Fifteen mental health centers will receive additional funds for the expansion of SBMH services with the $750,000 in FY 21. We currently have 89 school systems and 18 community mental health centers participating in the School-Based Mental Health Collaboration Program.

First Episode of Psychosis

Alabama’s First Episode of Psychosis (FEP) program addresses youth and young adults experiencing symptoms of early psychosis. The program, operated by JBS Mental Health Authority is located in Birmingham and is aptly named NOVA. This program utilizes well-researched, and evidenced based practices to help youth and young adults recover, stay on track in school, locate and maintain employment, and strengthen their relationships with family and support networks. The targeted parameters for the NOVA program are individuals aged 15-25 years experiencing their first episode of psychosis, those residing within the service area (Birmingham City, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Homewood, and Hoover) and a willingness to participate in the program for a period of two years. The FEP program provides a coordinated array of recovery-oriented services and supports to the individual and their family. Services include family support through Multi-Family Groups, Youth and Family Peer Supports, Supported Employment and Education (using the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model), Case Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Low Dose Anti-Psychotic medications, as needed. The coordinated care approach emphasizes shared decision-making and working with individuals to reach their recovery goals. The NOVA program collaborates with other state agencies to include the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, as well as the state IPS programs as a means of meeting the clients overall Vocational and Educational needs.

NAMI. (July, 2016). What is Early and First-Episode Psychosis? [Brochure].