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SAMHSA publishes guidelines, toolkit to strengthen crisis care in America's communities

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published “Crisis Services: Meeting Needs, Saving Lives,” a compendium detailing crisis intervention services, best practices and related components of crisis services, for use by a wide array of community leaders and health care providers to work toward better outcomes for Americans in crisis.

The book is composed of SAMHSA’s “National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care: Best Practice Toolkit” and related papers on crisis services. The toolkit reflects relevant clinical and health services research, review of top national program practices and replicable approaches that support best practice implementation. The related papers address key issues relevant to crisis services, homelessness, technology advances, substance use, legal issues impacting crisis services, financing crisis care, diverse populations, children and adolescents, rural and frontier areas, and the role of law enforcement.

“Crisis services and their successful implementation are a critical component of a comprehensive approach to addressing mental health care,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., who leads SAMHSA. “We are pleased to be able to provide states and communities with this tool to assist in the development of successful crisis systems across the country.”

In collaboration with SAMHSA and the National Association of Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), many industry leaders and health care providers authored and otherwise contributed to the content in both sections of the book. “In preparing this information, we could think of no one better to provide input than people who have worked successfully with crisis systems of care. Their expertise – as well as the experiences of individuals and families who have relied on these supports – inform this book,” said Assistant Secretary McCance-Katz. “This important compendium will provide leaders in mental health and substance use services valuable information to develop and improve crisis services across the country,” said Brian Hepburn, M.D., the CEO of NASMHPD.

This book is consistent with SAMHSA's mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Likewise, in October, SAMHSA released a mobile app, My Mental Health Crisis Plan, which allows individuals who have serious mental illness (SMI) to create a plan to guide their treatment during a mental health crisis. The app was developed through SMI Adviser, a project funded by SAMHSA and administered by the American Psychiatric Association.

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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