AAS Awards Beacon Health Options with National Crisis Accreditation, necessary to operate 988 answer point, ensure best practices

Beacon rated high for cultural competency

WASHINGTON D.C./BOSTON—December 8—The American Association of Suicidology  has accredited Beacon Health Options for crisis programs, which confirms the behavioral health services company is delivering quality services in operating national crisis lines. Crisis accreditation is a requirement to serve as an answer point for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and 988, the country’s new behavioral health 911 that launches in July, 2022.

“AAS is especially proud to be part of the official 988 accreditation,” said Dr. Adam Walsh, Interim Executive Director of AAS. “The creation of the new three-digit number – the mental health version of 911 – is crucial to achieving parity for mental and physical health. We don’t require someone having a heart attack to have memorized a 10-digit number and we shouldn’t expect the same for someone having a mental health crisis.”

Beacon, responsible for crisis lines in six states, is one of a handful of health insurers to have earned the designation. Beacon earned the accreditation by meeting or exceeding criteria in multiple areas, including 24/7 crisis call response, community education and rescue services.

“I congratulate Beacon Health Options on receiving Crisis Center Certification from the American Association of Suicidology,” said former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum. “With the new three-digit mental health crisis number (988) available on all phones nationwide by next July, it’s more important than ever that providers meet nationally recognized standards.”

The AAS accreditation confirms for people in crisis, as well as local and state governments funding crisis programs, that Beacon’s programs are developed and delivered based on nationally recognized standards for care during crisis.

“We’re dedicated to suicide prevention and believed it was key for AAS, a nonprofit group with the utmost credibility in crisis, to ensure we are operating within best practice standards for the health and safety of our callers,” said Wendy Farmer, national crisis leader for Beacon Health Options. “We know from our own State of the Nation’s Mental Health Report based on 2020 data that there was a big disconnect between the escalated mental health distress from the pandemic and the number of people who were actually getting help. This creates an environment where people are more susceptible to crisis and we want to make sure we’re best prepared to help.”    

AAS’ analysis also assesses Beacon programs for telephone response, ethics, records security, confidentiality, advertising and promotional materials. The accreditation allows Beacon to grow its crisis programs by using AAS criteria for systematic, ongoing evaluation until it is time for the organization to re-evaluate Beacon.

“What we especially look for in our review is whether crisis specialists answering calls have the cultural competency training to understand the needs of people from backgrounds other than their own,” said Chris Sandwell, AAS Manager of Crisis Services Accreditation & Certification. “We found that Beacon puts a great deal of effort on cultural competency and does an excellent job at providing appropriate training and seeking input to help its services evolve. This is especially important as the most recent CDC data from 2020 shows that suicide is disproportionately affecting communities of color.”

About 988

In July 2022, 988 will roll out as the new, nationwide, easy-to-remember 3-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, linked to the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  988 will be the mental health version of 911 and support phone and chat services. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and consists of a network of local crisis centers across the country.

For the Media: Responsible reporting on suicide, including stories of hope and resilience, can prevent more suicides. Please visit the Media as Partners in Suicide Prevention: Suicide Reporting Recommendations for more details. For additional information, please visit SuicideReportingToolkit.com and Stanford University’s Media and Mental Health Initiative. For crisis services anywhere in the world, please visit FindAHelpline.org

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 professionals, 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 Beacon Health Options

Beacon Health Options is a leading behavioral health services company serving one out of six people across all 50 states. We work with employers, health plans and government agencies to support mental health and emotional wellbeing, crisis and foster care, substance use disorder recovery, and employee health programs that improve the health and wellness of people every day. Our multi-modal, insights driven approach allows us to integrate social, behavioral and physical health solutions to drive improved outcomes for everyone we serve. By collaborating with a network of providers in communities around the country, we help individuals live their lives to the fullest potential. For more information, visit www.beaconhealthoptions.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/beaconhealthoptionswww.twitter.com/beaconhealthopt and www.linkedin.com/company/beacon-health-options.

Media contacts:
Beacon Health Options
Leslie Porras, leslie.porras@anthem.com

American Association of Suicidology
Chris Maxwell, cmaxwell@suicidology.com