Today – Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) released its Community Crisis Intervention Annual Report for 2021, showing the demand for mental health crisis services reached record heights over the past year. This includes a 32% increase in calls to the Utah Crisis Line.
“The pandemic has exacerbated an already growing mental health crisis,” says Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO HMHI. “We know that an integrated crisis response system is vital to our success at addressing the challenges facing our state. I thank the state legislature for their visionary investments in mental health and prioritizing crisis services over the past decade to build a best-in-class system that is nationally recognized.
Through collaboration with many partners, HMHI has managed and provided crisis services to Utahns for more than 35 years. HMHI provides access to innovative mental health crisis care through the following statewide services at no cost to the client.
- The Utah Crisis Line (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides statewide phone-based support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by certified crisis counselors. Last year, 92,532 calls were received, and 1,353 life-saving interventions were initiated.
- Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOTs) are available in every county in Utah and dispatched through the Utah Crisis Line. HMHI provides rapid, in-person crisis intervention services to residents of Salt Lake County. MCOTs may respond directly to the individual or family in need and in conjunction with law enforcement and EMS. In 2021, 6,661 contacts were made in Salt Lake County; 85% of youth, and 79% of adults had their crisis resolved.
- Utah Warm Line, a statewide phone-based service for emotional help and support staffed by peer support specialists seven days a week, 8 am to 11 pm. Last year, The Utah Warm Line received 29,903 calls.
- SafeUT smartphone app offers 24/7 chat and school safety tip support for K-12 and higher education students, parents, and educators, as well as National Guard members and frontline workers. In 2021, 850,790 students across Utah had access to the app. 30,527 total chats and tips were received through the app, and 298 life-saving interventions were initiated.
- Safe Care Transition allows HMHI crisis care staff to provide follow-up calls to individuals aged 10-24 who indicated any level of suicidal thoughts or intent during their visit to HMHI or several emergency departments across Salt Lake Valley. The program helps people feel valued and supported during a vulnerable time. The series of outbound phone calls are known as “caring connections.” In 2021, 7,716 caring connections were made.
According to the National Council of Behavioral Health, the ideal crisis system includes a full continuum of crisis components, including a crisis call center, mobile crisis services, walk-in urgent care, secure crisis center, 23-hour observation, residential crisis services, hospitalization, and outpatient services. HMHI’s holistic approach to mental health and crisis services covers all of these areas, providing care for everyone in need—from children to adults facing any type of mental health crisis.
In 2024, HMHI will expand services for individuals in psychiatric distress with the opening of the Mental Health Crisis Care Center in Salt Lake County. The state-of-the-art facility will provide a compassionate evaluation for people in crisis and their families. The new center will provide those at any level of care with access to personalized case management and individualized recovery plans.
“From the crisis lines we manage to the mobile care teams we dispatch, our integrated crisis intervention system aims to provide our state with the best possible mental health crisis support, connect individuals to ongoing care, and reduce stigma and shame so people will get the help they need,” Rapaport says. “The new Mental Health Crisis Care Center is a critical part of making the whole system work.”
Looking Ahead – 988
HMHI is working closely with the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Vibrant Emotional Health, and many statewide and national partners to prepare for the launch of 988. The new three-digit number will route callers to Utah’s crisis response system at HMHI and replace the current 10-digit phone number (1-800-273-8255). The 988 concept was developed in Utah and championed nationally by Representative Chris Stewart and Senator Orrin Hatch in 2017. 988 became federal law in October 2020.
“We are working hard to ensure that when 988 launches, we are ready and can maintain and improve the quality of crisis services we are currently providing,” says Rachel Lucynski, Business Operations Manager, Community Crisis Services at HMHI “988 is a historic milestone and we’re grateful and excited to be part of the state and national efforts to improve access to mental health services.”