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

We must establish and invest in a comprehensive crisis response system—supporting state efforts to set up best practices for crisis intervention and stabilization—with trained professionals (e.g., mobile crisis units, peer supports, and respite centers) to safely and compassionately respond to people in crisis.

Dr. Brian Hepburn

Priority 3 Calls to Action

  • We call on federal, state, and local policymakers to collaborate with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to implement 988 as a complete crisis call hub capable of connecting individuals with emergent and urgent mental health and substance use crises to appropriate, non-punitive care, consistent with how 911 connects individuals to an effective emergency medical and public health safety response.
  • We call on federal, state, and local policymakers to continue to expand efforts to divert people with mental health and substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system and to appropriate substance use and mental health services.
  • We call on policymakers, payers, providers, accreditors, and other relevant health system stakeholders to expect and incentivize the delivery of crisis services consistent with the National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care issued by SAMHSA.
  • We call on federal and state policymakers and commercial payers to cover effective mental health and substance use crisis services in public and private health plans.
  • We call on federal, state, and local policymakers to incentivize the development of a workforce with expertise in the delivery of effective crisis services.
  • We call on government, philanthropic, and private grant-makers to fund research that evaluates the ability of diverse populations to access crisis care and evaluates the effectiveness of users’ satisfaction with care.


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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