No one 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. Right now, in our communities, jails and hospitals are too often the first entry point for an individual in need.
Due to the lack of a crisis care system in Alabama, individuals in a mental health or substance abuse crisis often have encounters with police officers, medical first responders, hospital emergency room staff, or end up in correctional facilities, without getting the proper treatment and diagnosis they need.
To address these needs, the Alabama Department of Mental Health has begun the journey to a full Behavioral Health Crisis Continuum, which will include crisis diversion centers, with three centers created across the state by May 2021.
ADMH requested and received $18 million for Fiscal Year 2021, to establish and stand up the first pilot Crisis Diversion Centers in the state. These centers will be a designated place for communities, law enforcement, first responders, and hospitals to take an individual that is in mental health or substance abuse crisis. At the center, the individual could receive stabilization, evaluation, and psychiatric services.
The providers and locations of the first three crisis centers are AltaPointe Health in Mobile, the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority, and WellStone Behavioral Health in Huntsville.
These centers will:
ADMH thanks Governor Ivey and legislative investment, which will help to transform the crisis system of care, dramatically lower healthcare costs, reinvest those dollars to better the quality of life, achieve better health outcomes, and improve life for those with acute mental health needs.
Stepping Up Alabama is an integral part of this work. Stepping Up is a national initiative designed to reduce the number of people who have mental illnesses in jails and hospital emergency departments. To learn more about Stepping Up Alabama, its components, and progress, please visit Stepping Up Alabama.
The goals for rural crisis care 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.”
In Fiscal Year 2021, Five community mental health centers across the state received funding to increase their crisis care services:
The community mental health centers may include in their crisis services mobile crisis units, a co-response with law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, crisis peer support, crisis case management, regional call centers, and respite options. Individualized technical assistance is provided to each center.
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].
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 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 the 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 72 school systems and all 19 community mental health centers participating in the School-Based Mental Health Collaboration Program