Contact: Travis Atkinson
UNITED STATES (July 7, 2020): A recent national survey of behavioral health crisis service providers reveals that the demand for crisis services is increasing during COVID-19, while workers continue to be overwhelmed by fewer available resources for the people they serve. This survey included mobile crisis providers, crisis residential programs, and crisis calls centers across the country.
A report released by TBD Solutions in conjunction with other leading mental health organizations analyzed the responses of nearly 600 crisis providers, including 241 mobile crisis providers, 205 crisis residential programs, and 151 crisis call centers, revealing a crisis system being used more frequently by individuals with more complex challenges aggravated by COVID- 19. Survey responses were elicited largely from members of the American Association of Suicidology, the Crisis Residential Association, and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors.
“Everyone’s anxiety level has increased,” one survey respondent wrote. “The increased complexity is mainly due to their chronic underlying conditions being exacerbated by fear, anxiety and social isolation.”
While the initial survey revealed the greatest concerns around health care and a lack of critical supplies, this survey found issues with care coordination and supervisor concerns about the health and safety of their staff as the most pressing matters.
“With the longer-term effects of COVID-19 taking shape, we expect to see more people accessing behavioral health crisis services for the first time,” says Travis Atkinson, Crisis Systems Consultant with TBD Solutions. “It is imperative that communities dedicate the necessary resources to assure crisis services are ready and accessible when people need them, even in times of economic drought. These services keep people in community-based care while decreasing the need for more costly and restrictive treatment options.”
“Real-time analysis of behavioral health providers is critical in a time where things are changing quickly and dramatically in terms of access and capacity,” said Colleen Creighton, CEO of the American Association of Suicidology. “These findings clearly show we need to work harder to support these providers who are already doing life-saving, heroic work on a daily basis. Our behavioral health systems need to be strengthened, both through increased funding and increased infrastructure, while those seeking help need better ways to safely and securely access those services.”
MOBILE CRISIS CHALLENGES: Mobile Crisis providers reported care coordination issues with community partners (73%) and concerns about keeping crisis staff safe and healthy (69%).
More than 40% reported a lack of critical supplies and equipment as a major concern (42%), while 32% of mobile crisis providers reported an increase in referrals.
CRISIS RESIDENTIAL CHALLENGES: 77% of crisis residential programs reported care coordination issues as a major challenge and 73% reported concerns as a supervisor about health and safety of their staff. Over half of respondents also cited attrition due to health concerns (52%) and an overwhelmed workforce due to increased clinical needs of persons served (50%). 38% of crisis residential programs reported an increase in referrals.
CRISIS CALL CENTER CHALLENGES: Crisis call centers identified care coordination issues (59%) and staff safety concerns (58%) as major challenges. Crisis call centers also report an increase in clinical intensity of calls (44%) and a decrease in available staff to cover shifts (41%).58% of respondents reported an increase in calls.
The survey was underwritten by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. TBD Solutions partnered with Dr. Philp Resnik of the University of Maryland to analyze the survey results through topic modelling, an innovative technology designed to capture the essence of large- scale narrative survey responses.
About TBD Solutions: TBD Solutions (TBDS) is a consulting, training, and research firm specializing in behavioral health crisis system design, function, and performance. Formed in 2011, TBD Solutions is committed to the values of high-quality, cost-effective, and client- centered care that effectively meets the urgent and ongoing needs of individuals receiving services. Learn more at www.tbdolutions.com.
About AAS: The American Association of Suicidology is the world’s largest membership-based suicide prevention organization. Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes the research of suicide and its prevention, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of laypersons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at www.suicidology.org.
About CRA: The Crisis Residential Association exists to support the operational and clinical functions of residential alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization. Rooted in the values of empathy, recovery, and continuous improvement, the association seeks to connect providers with the best ideas in behavioral health treatment to transform the way people receive mental health care. More information is available at www.crisisresidentialnetwork.com.
About NASCOD: The National Association of Crisis Organization Directors is an organization for social service professionals serving as Executive Directors or Program Directors of crisis organizations. NASCOD’s mission is to provide support and professional development for executive directors and program managers. More information is available at www.nascod.org.