Mobile Crisis Teams: Your Community’s Solution
Around 23% of adults in the United States experience mental illness annually. That statistic translates to around 58 million people.
One in five.
Similarly, around 21% of American adults have used illicit drugs in the past year.
One in five.
It is easy to see and forget facts like those above when you aren’t directly involved or affected by this issue. However, the fact that one person out of every five has experienced or is experiencing either mental illness or substance use disorder means that the statistics are more culturally relevant than ever before.
Beyond statistics such as these, there has long been a stigma around behavioral health that went largely unchecked until the Covid-19 pandemic. Because behavioral health has had the spotlight in the past three years, however, the attention to its effects and solutions in the United States is shifting.
National statistics may seem far away and out of touch. It’s easy to see numbers and move on… but consider those numbers in your community.
One in five.
The fact is that behavioral healthcare is a wholly different issue than physical healthcare. While you may be able to recognize someone who needs medical attention, whether they have a broken arm or are the victim of an accident, behavioral health is often invisible until the situation is dire.
If someone has a medical crisis, the first call for help is 911. Everyone knows what happens next—the operator answers, the ambulance comes, and generally, the patient is taken to the hospital or treated by emergency personnel.
These days, ambulances are the first line of care for those in need, but emergency healthcare wasn’t always that way.
Before the 1960s, emergency healthcare was almost nonexistent. People were dying because critical medical care was rarely available outside of hospital settings.
The development of emergency medical services was driven by a range of contributors, but most of those, including physicians, government officials, and entrepreneurs, were local people and businesses that had direct connections to their communities and led the transition from words to action.
The evolution of emergency medical services proves the power of change at the community level—what started as local changes wound up changing the way people are medically served nationwide.
Now, imagine applying that same grassroots approach to behavioral health as well. The key is to know your resources and use them in ways that could change the world, and will no doubt change your community.
Leaders realized how many lives were being lost due to medical crises in their communities until the 1960s and did something about it. Perhaps the 2020s will be known as the decade this generation does the same for behavioral crises. But how?
As behavioral healthcare emerges as an essential subject, health equity in rural and urban areas immediately poses challenges for communities. Resources like 988 have come to the forefront, but how do towns and cities ensure that behavioral healthcare is genuinely accessible for all people?
Behavioral Healthcare Logistics
Logistics are the missing component in the fight to provide critical help for people with behavioral health issues. Everyone has grand ideas, even some that could change their world, but putting those ideas into motion and making them happen tends to be where even the most powerful solutions stall.
After all, what if no one had ever stepped forward and suggested emergency medical care all those years ago? What if no one ever offered a vehicle to begin those services? What if ambulances never existed?
Although it might not be the most glamorous element of the movement, emergency medical care was, and still is, made possible through proper logistics and fleet management.
If those with behavioral healthcare crises had access to relevant emergency services, healthcare as we know it would be revolutionized.
Community, state, and even national organizations have come to the forefront to address behavioral healthcare. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) lead the charge in substance use, mental health, and health equity information.
Several states, including California, have begun funding behavioral health care through programs like the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP). Like other states, BHCIP offers grants to fund projects that develop treatment resources.
People, families, and communities have proven the need. Organizations have offered the vision. Government and philanthropic entities extend the funding. And now, BusTest Express® recognizes the gap and has the logistics covered.
What is Behavioral Health?
Before the need can be filled, it must be correctly identified.
Behavioral health refers to the well-being of an individual in terms of their behavior, emotions, and thoughts. It encompasses both mental health and substance use.
Mental health refers to the emotional and psychological well-being of an individual, while substance use disorder refers to the harmful or excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Both mental health and substance use are crucial components of overall health and well-being, and they often impact each other.
Mental illness and substance use are not new challenges in communities. More than 500,000 people have died from opioid abuse alone since 2000. Historically, however, these challenges haven’t been addressed in ways that offer effective long-term help and recovery.
The Behavioral Health Continuum of Care Model was introduced to highlight the need for complete care outlining Promotion, Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery stages for mental health and substance use disorder.
Unlike a broken arm, where the patient wears a cast and heals in a few months, mental health and substance use are lifelong health concerns that must be monitored and compassionately addressed.
The first section of the Behavioral Health Continuum, Promotion, seeks to ensure that environments are available that are conducive to mental health support and acceptance.
Promotion and awareness lead to the next section of the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care, which is Prevention. Many seeking behavioral health and substance use resources simply need a “safe place to be.” They need a place that offers judgment-free, applicable help.
We believe that “safe place to be” comes in the form of mobile health and wellness.
Equipped with appropriate resources and expertise to determine the necessary next steps, this customized solution is focused on de-escalating and preventing future crises in the least restrictive setting possible.
BusTest Express®’ mobile solution services are capable of serving multiple areas and populations on a rotating schedule, so mobile services are consistently available and serve as dependable support for those in need.
This minimizes the number of resources that need to be procured and successfully addresses workforce shortage issues.
Every BusTest Express® mobile solution is truly equitable whereby anyone, no matter where they are located or what their life circumstance may be, can board one of our vehicles to speak to a qualified professional (in-person and/or virtually).
These solutions are designed to deter future crises, reduce costs, decrease mobile crisis calls, and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and behavioral-health-related arrests.
After Prevention in the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care comes Treatment. Treatment happens in response to mental health or substance use crises, and this is where logistics are needed most.
Any individual or family experiencing a behavioral health or substance use crisis, no matter their age or circumstance, can board one of our vehicles to receive connections to the mental health and/or addiction services they need.
Beyond offering the appropriate crisis response, our solutions transport individuals when required, as well as deliver equitable follow-up or check-in services within 72 hours of the initial crisis. The mobile crisis response service functions in the place of law enforcement and ambulances, however works cohesively with them if determined necessary by the mobile crisis team.
Crisis follow-up, found in the Recovery phase of the Continuum, is a crucial element that is often overlooked in Behavioral Healthcare. Support after a crisis includes resources, long-term treatment, and secondary medical care. The Recovery Phase becomes one with the Prevention Phase.
Without the logistics, including staff, resources, expertise, and fleet management, several gaps exist in the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care.
988: A Good Start
Suicide is often an outcome of mental illness. 46% of people who commit suicide had a known mental health condition. That percentage doesn’t take substance abuse into account, nor does it consider that mental health and suicidal thoughts are not always openly addressed in typical medical settings.
Beyond those who tragically take their lives, the World Health Organization reports that, for every person who commits suicide, it is likely that 20 more attempt it, and countless more are considering it.
Every year, suicides outnumber deaths from car accidents and surpass both homicides and AIDS deaths combined. Beyond suicide’s death toll, the family, friends, and loved ones they leave behind are severely affected as well.
Because of this, 988, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, was established in 2020 to serve people in behavioral health crises in their time of need.
The establishment of 988 as a nationwide initiative instantly reduced the stigma attached to mental health matters. 988 as a service also began the conversation around how treatment and care are deployed in communities.
Consider what a call to 911 would be like without knowing help is on the way.
911 is more than a conversation; a call sets a series of events into motion, and the medical need is almost immediately addressed.
That’s where the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care sees logistical gaps.
988 provides a strong foundation for supplying emergency behavioral health support, but without emergency services and follow-up care, the real need in the community fails to be met.
Enter BusTest Express.
Our mobile service systems are wi-fi powered, trauma-responsive, and integrate into any service area nationwide. Offering these crisis stabilization vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year fills the logistical gaps in care and provides a first step to treatment, recovery, and preventing relapse or reoccurrence.
Health Equity in Rural and Urban Areas
It is no secret that diverse populations exist in rural and urban areas alike. Unfortunately, various demographics, psychographics, and socioeconomic statuses often indicate health equity disparities for underserved populations. Ensuring everyone has access to care is a vital consideration when planning emergency services.
Health Equity in Rural Areas
Behavioral health is in crisis in rural America. The suicide rate in rural areas is considerably higher than in cities, and mental illness is climbing as well.
Substance use is also prevalent in rural areas because these populations are more widespread. Therefore, people tend to be isolated.
Crisis care response times are much longer, and hospitals that offer proper care are typically farther away. When there is care available, many rural Americans fail to receive complete support due to long wait times or lack of insurance coverage.
Small-town budgets rarely allow for mental health resources, so long-term recovery options are sparse. If rural residents have low income or are poverty stricken, they lack the means to travel or connect with telehealth services.
The Behavioral Health Continuum of Care is currently full of gaps in these areas of the United States, but Mobile Crisis Units are an overall solution for each of them. Beyond offering care to people in rural communities, access to BusTest Express’ mobile health and wellness solutions offers hope.
The Continuum of Care includes services beyond crisis response—treatment and long-term care are also vital to recovery. By offering a connection to this care, our services fill in the gaps and provide a positive path forward.
Health Equity in Urban Areas
Large cities in the United States might seem as though they are full of behavioral healthcare options, but urban areas hold a distinct set of challenges. Homelessness and lack of insurance are two major concerns for these areas.
The urban homeless population faces many circumstances that most cannot fathom. Beyond limited to no access to nutritious food and stable housing, homeless people are at higher risk for abuse, and this factor in itself often either exacerbates or leads to mental illness and/or substance use disorder.
However, when a homeless person faces a crisis, their only current option is emergency medical services.
Beyond the homeless population, around 10% of American adults are uninsured, and many more are underinsured. Like the homeless population, their only current options when facing a behavioral health crisis are calling 988, 911, or making their way to the Emergency Room.
Quality crisis services and follow-up care must be available when and where they are needed, for anyone who needs help.
Mobile Crisis Teams: Your Community’s Solution
Providing behavioral healthcare access to all who need it is a critical need in the United States. Just as emergency medical services evolved through local action and involvement decades ago, answering the call for equitable, consistent, and complete behavioral healthcare begins in your community.
Your community is affected by behavioral health in more ways than you might realize.
When someone experiencing a behavioral health crisis utilizes the only viable option they have for help, they are currently met with emergency medical services and taken to the nearest emergency room.
If they are posing a risk to themselves or others, then law enforcement gets involved. The cultural stigma associated with behavioral health and law enforcement can be a deterrent to seek help at all, which only worsens the issue.
Beyond receiving either incomplete or unnecessary treatment, follow-up care is often sporadic or happens in the care of the jail system.
There is a better solution for better behavioral healthcare in rural and urban areas and everywhere in between. 988 is a strong start, and now it’s time for communities to step in and complete the continuum.
Reducing community reliance on law enforcement and hospitals as the first line of response before or during a behavioral health emergency has the potential to revolutionize the standard of care for both medical and behavioral health crises.
With budget allocations and appropriate emergency personnel available to tend to other community needs, mobile crisis response is the solution for more than individuals and families in need. It is also the answer to how several departments can operate more efficiently within a town or city.
The need for mobile crisis response services and a comprehensive, complete continuum of behavioral health care for all is critical. Peoples’ futures and the futures of their families and communities are all at risk when crises are not properly addressed.
Your mobile service system handles every phase of community crisis intervention:
- A “safe place to be” for those seeking behavioral health and substance use resources
- Serving multiple areas and populations on a rotating schedule
- Immediate help available to the entire community
- Collaboration with law enforcement when needed
- Crisis recovery resource assistance
- Ongoing support
With BusTest Express® mobile crisis response services, the Behavioral Healthcare Continuum of Care is complete and comprehensive. Ongoing support and connection also prevent future crises, so your community’s overall health and well-being are not only stable—they are on the path to a positive future.
Meeting people where they are in the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care is critical. That’s why BusTest Express ® is transforming the mobile crisis response space by providing first-of-its-kind emergency response vehicles and systems.
Our mobile response services reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness in your community by:
- Lessening emergency department overload
- Decreasing unnecessary hospitalizations
- Lowering law enforcement involvement
- Diverting behavioral-health-related arrests
- Connecting individuals to stabilization services, and
- Extending ongoing support to deter future trauma and crises.
How to Provide a Mobile Crisis Response Team in Your Area: Logistics
There are several components to Mobile Crisis Response Teams, and logistics encompasses a broad range of them. With 70 years of experience, Storer® is nationally recognized as an innovative leader and industry expert in transportation operations and large fleet logistics.
Storer®’s mission to make bus service about passengers continued as BusTest Express® was founded to deliver complete logistics management for Mobile Crisis Response Teams in your area.
Partner with BusTest Express® to build your community’s crisis response system.
We'll work with you to:
- Organize your program
- Establish your services
- Secure your vehicles and delivery system with logistics management, including
- Custom vehicle fabrication
- Experienced drivers
- Preventive and corrective maintenance
- Commercial insurance
- On-road risk management
- Safety and training
- Record keeping
- Mobile operations
- Fleet management
- Dispatch operations
- Quick response times
- Vehicle tracking
Partner with BusTest Express®
Through organizing, establishing, and deploying hope to your community, you support the growth and development of lives affected by behavioral health crises for generations to come.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to dispatch and deploy Mobile Crisis Team vehicles in your area, let’s have a conversation.