Priority Research Opportunities in Crisis Response Services
Jennifer Humensky, Ph.D.
Division of Services and Intervention Research and Suicide Prevention Research Team
The purpose of this concept is to support research examining the effectiveness and implementation of crisis response services and the impact of state and local policy on the introduction, implementation, and outcomes of crisis response services, including those under the 988 rollout.
Reports indicate that effective crisis response systems can ensure that individuals at risk for suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis get access to emergency care, thereby reducing hospital admissions and avoiding arrest or incarceration. The federal government has made significant investments to support the crisis response services offered through the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, including investments to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network operations, the crisis call center workforce, telephone/chat/text infrastructure, and mobile crisis response teams.
NIMH seeks to promote research examining the effectiveness and implementation of crisis response services, approaches to improve the quality and outcomes of services (e.g., decision support and workforce training tools), and the impact of state and local policy on implementation and outcomes. This concept encourages research that is conducted in real-world settings, where a wide range of clinical presentations, psychosocial factors, age-related characteristics, geographic context (e.g., rural/remote settings), cultural considerations, and health disparities influence the types of care that are provided. Studies that address the continuum of crisis service systems, as well as crisis services for children and under-resourced populations, are encouraged. This concept encourages research that spans the crisis care continuum, including but not limited to the effectiveness of call center strategies to coordinate care and promote engagement with mental health services, as well as questions pertaining to policy approaches, such as the impact of financing mechanisms, rules and regulations, on the implementation and outcome of crisis services.
As states and localities build, increase, and/or improve their existing crisis service systems, it will be critical to understand which approaches are most effective. Across the continuum of crisis services, measurement-based care approaches to determine effectiveness, quality, and outcomes of crisis services will be needed. This concept aligns with Goal 4 of the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research that calls for research in effective strategies for suicide prevention.