AN INITIATIVE OF THE NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES - DIVISION OF MENTAL HEALTH, DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES
The NC Crisis Solutions Initiative focuses on identifying and implementing the best known strategies for crisis care while reducing avoidable visits to emergency departments and involvement with the criminal justice system for individuals in behavioral health crises.
The Initiative is built upon two key strategies: (1) The NC Department of Health and Human Services will work in partnership with all of the stakeholders in the crisis system to find what is working in locations across the state and nation, and evaluate what makes a crisis intervention strategy effective. (2) DHHS will find ways to replicate and sustain successful models by eliminating barriers, and establishing policy and funding to support those models.
Healthcare, government, law enforcement, and community leaders in North Carolina are coming together in the Crisis Solutions Coalition — finding better ways to help people in a behavioral health crisis and to increase the use of services to help individuals quickly resolve the crisis and get back to their homes, families, friends, and work. With earlier intervention strategies that prevent crisis altogether, each community in North Carolina can benefit from strengthened supports to help people.
“This is a major step forward on getting the right care sooner to patients suffering a mental health crisis,” Governor McCrory said. “Additionally, this will allow hospital emergency room personnel to concentrate on patients in need of immediate medical attention.”
Funding from this year’s state budget combined with federal grants won by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will support reimbursement of the on-site behavioral health assessment and diversion services.
The program will allow 12 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies across North Carolina to bill for the transport of patients in mental health crisis to mental health centers. As of December 15, EMS departments can bill retroactively to the beginning of the fiscal year until funds run out.
This billing option is part of the second year of an EMS pilot program, known as the Community Paramedicine Behavioral Health Crisis Response model. The pilot is funded and administered through DHHS’ Crisis Solutions Initiative. The purpose of the program is to assist those in mental health crises more effectively.
Last year, regional mental health authorities and community providers developed advanced training for EMS departments and their paramedics that specialize in treating mental illness and substance use to divert individuals in mental health crises from hospital emergency rooms to behavioral health crisis centers.
Benefits of this model include quicker access to specialized behavioral health services and allowing emergency departments to focus on assisting patients requiring an acute level of medical attention.
“For a person in a mental health crisis, timely attention from properly trained paramedics and dispatchers is critical,” DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer said. “This training, coupled with the change in entities’ ability to reimburse paramedics, will help place patients in the most appropriate care setting in a timelier manner.”
December 4, 2015 — Ten years ago, the first Crisis Intervention Team training class was held in North Carolina. Supported by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, CIT training provides law enforcement officers 40 or more hours of training to prepare them to assist individuals experiencing a mental health, substance use or developmental disability crisis.