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Mental health summit highlights growth of mobile crisis teams

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Mental health summit highlights growth of mobile crisis teams

Jun 13, 2024 | 6:30 am ET
By Mia Hilkowitz
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Mental health summit highlights growth of mobile crisis teams
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Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction representatives Jay Chaudhary and Lindsay Potts give a presentation at the 2024 Indiana Mental Health Roundtable Summit on June 12, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. Chaudhary and Potts shared that mobile crisis teams are now responding to mental health crises in 59 Indiana counties. (Mia Hilkowitz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Non-police mobile crisis teams are now responding to mental health crises in 59 Indiana counties, increasing access to mental health care and relieving the burden on medical providers and law enforcement officers across the state. 

“What we’re doing is creating another provider type,” said Lindsay Potts,  a state mental health and addiction division director. “You’ve got fire, EMS, law enforcement, and now you have mobile crisis teams.” 

Appearing in front of a crowd of educators, business executives and health care leaders at the 2024 Indiana Mental Health Roundtable Summit on Wednesday, state officials with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction shared how the state has increased the presence of mobile crisis teams—a team of behavioral health professionals who can provide specialized mental health care to those in crisis.

If you or someone you know is currently experiencing thoughts of suicide or a mental health crisis, call 988 to reach a trained crisis specialist 24/7.

They also highlighted the growth of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) statewide since Senate Enrolled Act 1 went into effect in May 2023. The 24/7 clinics provide mental health and addiction services to all Hoosiers regardless of diagnosis, insurance, residence or age.

SEA 1 aimed to improve Hoosiers’ access to mental health care. The law required the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction to maintain the 988 suicide and crisis hotline, mobile assessment teams and crisis stabilization units. It also reauthorized the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission (IBHC). 

Before SEA 1 went into effect, mobile crisis teams were responding to mental health crises in just 16 Indiana counties. Potts said Indiana also now has four call centers and one text center to respond to 988 crisis hotline calls.

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Legislators allocated $100 million for the program in the 2023 state budget but the IBHC estimated the project to cost around $130 million a year when it fully matured. On June 4, however, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services accepted Indiana into its CCBHC Medicaid Demonstration Program, which will provide reimbursement through Medicaid for the costs clinics incur treating patients without insurance or other form of payment. 

“We don’t spend time in a crisis trying to figure out what insurance you have,” said Jay Chaudhary, the director of the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. “This is all a lot different than the regular way the medical system works.” 

Chaudhary said his department hopes the eight clinics participating in the federal pilot program will start offering expanded services in January 2025. 

“Big picture, it will allow us and our providers to design behavioral health care systems that meet the needs of communities kind of as they are, as opposed to responding to payment structures,” Chaudhary told the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

Addressing youth mental health

Chaudhary also emphasized during the panel that the federal funding would help youth who receive Indiana Medicaid coverage, connecting to the focus of Wednesday’s mental health summit. 

Mental health bill is personal for elected officials

Wednesday was the second time the Indiana Mental Health Roundtable, founded by Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch in 2021, has hosted a summit. It partnered with Riley Children’s Health to organize Wednesday’s event. The day-long event featured more than a dozen speaker and breakout sessions. The topics of these sessions ranged from how educators could incorporate new resources into their schools to a breakdown of Medicaid’s reimbursement for mental health care.

Crouch said the roundtable decided to focus on youth mental health after seeing how young Indiana residents have struggled with anxiety and depression since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“They are the future of Indiana and we want to be sure that the conversation is about how we can prepare them for that future,” Crouch told the Indiana Capital Chronicle. “So this is an issue we have to take on.” 

Crouch said that while extra funding, such as that provided under the medicaid demonstration program, is helpful to provide more resources, the state should also look at how it’s using the resources it currently has—something the summit encourages people to do. 

“It’s not a question of money, it’s really a question of how we deliver,” Crouch said. “It’s important that we have these kinds of conversations and bring these kinds of experts in to talk about our delivery of service and how we are actually getting services to people.”