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 988, 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 six Crisis Centers that offer services at 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.
Crisis Centers, 988 and Mobile Crisis Care
As part of the first major investment in state mental health services since Governor Lurleen Wallace’s administration, Governor Ivey has prioritized establishing a mental health crisis continuum of care, with efforts in the Alabama Legislature led by House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter. This continuum of care, called the Alabama Crisis System of Care includes Crisis Centers.
The initial three Crisis Centers were funded with an $18 million appropriation in the FY2021 General Fund budget, with continued funding appropriated in the FY2022 and FY2023 General Fund budgets to support the existing Crisis Centers and add new Crisis Centers across the state.
These centers are 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.
- AltaPointe Health: The Behavioral Health Crisis Center is located in Mobile County and serves Baldwin, Washington, Clark, Conecuh, Escambia, and Monroe Counties. The phone number for AltaPointe Behavioral Health Crisis Center is 251-450-2211.
- Carastar Health (formerly MAMHA): This center is in Montgomery, but serves the entire River Region, and the counties of Chambers, Lee, Russell, and Tallapoosa, in partnership with the community mental health centers of East Alabama and East Central Alabama. The center will open for walk-in usage in the Summer of 2022. Mobile Crisis Services are in operation, in conjunction with law enforcement and first responder partnerships. The phone number for the Carastar Health Crisis Center is 334-279-7830.
- WellStone: This center is located in Huntsville serving Cullman and Madison counties, and the surrounding counties of Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Walker, Winston, Lawrence, Limestone, Morgan, Jackson, Marshall, Cherokee, Dekalb, and Etowah. The center will open for walk-in usage in the Summer of 2022. Mobile Crisis Services are in operation, in conjunction with law enforcement and first responder partnerships. The phone number for WellStone Emergency Services Crisis Center is 256-705-6444.
- Jefferson, Blount, St. Clair Behavioral Services: This center will serve the named counties, in addition to surrounding counties. At this time, the center is in the process of construction and will open in the Summer of 2022.
- Indian Rivers Behavioral Health: The center will be located in Tuscaloosa. More information on counties served and contact information for the Crisis Center will be posted when designated.
- SpectraCare Health Systems: The center will be located in Dothan. More information on counties served and contact information for the Crisis Center will be posted when designated.
In addition to creating Crisis Centers, the Alabama Crisis System of Care includes the implementation of 988 and mobile crisis services throughout the state.
The purpose of the 988 Comprehensive Behavioral Health Crisis Communication System Commission (typically called the 988 commission), created by Act 2021-359, is to study and provide recommendations for the implementation of the 988 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 988 Commission.
In Fiscal Year 2021, five community mental health centers (CMHC) 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 the 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.
Another element to the success of the Alabama Crisis System of Care is the Stepping Up Alabama Initiative, an integral part of mental health care. 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 its progress, please visit Stepping Up Alabama.
Community Waiver Program
On November 1, 2021, the Division of Developmental Disabilities Division launched a new waiver program with a focus on serving individuals before they and/or their families are in crisis.
The Community Waiver Program (CWP) is currently available in Baldwin, Elmore, Houston, Jefferson, Limestone, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Tuscaloosa, and Walker counties. The CWP focuses on serving individuals before they and/or their families are in crisis. Service providers in this new program focus on important goals of Home and Community-Based Services programs such as community integration, opportunities for employment, and developing skills for independence.
The new waiver program offers services to persons with intellectual disabilities in five enrollment groups, based on age and living situation, each with a set of services designed particularly to serve them:
Group 1: Children (ages 3-13) with intellectual disabilities who live with family or other natural supports
Group 2: Transition-age youth with intellectual disabilities who (ages 14-21) live with family or other natural supports or who (ages 18-21) live independently
Group 3: Working-age or older adults (ages 22+) with intellectual disabilities who live with family or other natural supports or who live independently
Group 4: Persons (ages 3+) with intellectual disabilities who are unable to live with family or other natural supports or to live independently
Group 5: Working-age or older adults (ages 22+) with intellectual disabilities, who don’t qualify for the level of care offered in Group 3 but need home and community-based services to maintain community living and/or work in the community.
Individuals must enroll on the waiting list to be eligible for the Community Waiver Program. Support Coordinators offer direct assistance in gaining access to waiver program services to enable individuals to achieve their goals and have their assessed needs met. Service providers in this new program will focus on important goals of Home and Community-Based Services programs such as community integration, opportunities for employment, and developing skills for independence.
Learn more at https://mh.alabama.gov/community-waiver-program/.