Increase use of non-punitive and supportive crisis intervention services.

We must establish and invest in a comprehensive crisis response system with trained professionals (e.g., mobile crisis units, peer supports, respite centers) to safely and compassionately respond to people in crisis.

Dr. Brian Hepburn

Advancing Priority 3

The National Response is committed to strengthening the nation’s crisis response system to safely respond to individuals in a mental health crisis. Specifically, we are advocating for crisis calls to be funneled away from justice involvement and emergency departments (EDs) to professionally trained crisis response teams. Priority 3 will potentially prevent people with behavioral health issues needlessly ending up in jail or the ED. 

Through SAMHSA’s National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care and the eventual 988 crisis hotline, the National Response will be able to assist states in setting up best practices for crisis intervention and stabilization. Key to advancing this priority will be the integration of specialized services to meet the unique needs of marginalized communities, including those of color and sexual orientation.


Priority 3 Work Group

Priority 3 is one of six strategic imperatives the National Response has identified to help transform mental health and suicide prevention nationwide in the wake of the pandemic and beyond. 

The co-leaders of the multi-sector Priority 3 Work Group are:

  • Dr. Brian Hepburn, Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
  • Mx. Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs, The Trevor Project

Please visit this page often for progress updates and for information on how you can get involved.  

Priority 3 specific resources:

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All Americans—and all sectors of society—can help promote mental health and suicide prevention.

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