Crisis Services and the Behavioral Health Workforce

Crisis Services and the Behavioral Health Workforce

Published: Mar 30, 2021
Publisher: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Behavioral Health, Disability, and Aging Policy

Stefanie Pietras

Key Findings
  • Crisis services aim to quickly stabilize individuals in less intensive settings using a mix of staff types.
  • Crisis services may reduce demand on higher-cost professionals by using staff with less training who perform all functions within their scope of practice. This frees up staff with additional credentials to provide their full scope of practice.
  • Funding presents a primary challenge to more widespread adoption of crisis services.
  • Strong community partnerships are needed to assist with diversion from less appropriate settings, increase awareness of crisis services, and establish linkages to community services.

Crisis service models may present opportunities for more effectively using the behavioral health workforce. Crisis services offer individuals experiencing behavioral health crises stabilization in settings that are less intensive than traditional acute care. These models may align the level of intervention needed by a client to address a crisis with the level of training and credentials of a provider. This allows providers with greater specialized training, who are often more expensive and in shorter supply, to focus on those with more severe symptoms or specialized treatment needs. This brief discusses findings from a targeted environmental scan and case studies of four states examining the organization of crisis service models, their potential workforce implications, and barriers and facilitators to their more widespread adoption.

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