In our state, 67 counties, 55 are deemed “rural” by the Alabama Department of Public Health. There are many communities, families, and individuals who reside in rural areas without the ability to travel to a Crisis Center or a community mental health center if a crisis should occur. In order to actively change the model of care and respond to this vital need, the Alabama Department of Mental Health began expanding the Alabama Crisis System of Care to include Mobile Crisis Teams (MCT).

In FY21, with a foundational investment and support of Governor Ivey and the Legislature, five community mental health centers were funded to initiate rural crisis programs within their existing services.

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

Two additional CMHCs were awarded funds in FY21 through federal ARPA and Block Grant awards:

  • South Central Mental Health Center
  • Spectracare Health

Three Crisis Centers fund (6) Teams through state appropriation:

  • AltaPointe –  Mobile County
  • Carastar –Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes Counties
  • East Central –Pike, Macon, Bullock Counties
  • East Alabama –Lee, Chambers, Russell, Tallapoosa Counties

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 to the “right care, right time, right place.” Each center has a mobile crisis team as part of 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.

Training and Assistance

To transform mobile crisis care in our state, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Medicaid Agency received a CMS State Planning Grant for Mobile Crisis Services grant in FY22, and a year extension, allowing for further work with community mental health centers on this essential service within Alabama’s Crisis System of Care.

The grant and its work with providers, facilitated by VitAL, of The University of Alabama, assists in increasing the quality of care of all mobile crisis teams to ensure standardization for practices and procedures. ADMH works directly with the providers to provide technical assistance and guidance to ensure their program development is connected to the statewide crisis system of care and tailored to the specific needs of their rural communities.

1Source: SAMHSA National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care – Best Practice Toolkit