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Crisis Care and Service Systems Part 1: SAMHSA’s National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care: Best Practice Toolkit

Author: SAMHSA, Will Cook, PhD

Course Created: 2023

Practice Level: Intermediate

No book to buy Duration: 5 hours
4.6 out of 5.0, Based on: 649 reviews

Course Summary

Series Overview: This course is part of a 3-course series on Crisis Care and Service Systems

Substance abuse and mental illness crisis situations occur in all communities. This series presents SAMHSA’s national guidelines and best practices for crisis care, which can be used to strengthen crisis care and reduce the impact of substance abuse, acute mental illness, and suicide in America. The courses in this Crisis Care and Service Systems series are:  
• SAMHSA’s National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care: Best Practice Toolkit  
• Crisis Services Implementation and Infrastructure  
• Crisis Care for Various Populations  

Crisis mental health care in the United States is currently inconsistent and inadequate. Good crisis care is widely recognized as an effective strategy for preventing suicide, resolving mental health and substance use crises, reducing the use of emergency departments to board patients in psychiatric crisis, improving mental healthcare provision, and shifting reliance away from law enforcement and the justice systems to manage psychiatric emergencies. SAMSHSA’s National Guidelines for Behavior Health Crisis Care: Best Practice Toolkit presents best practice guidelines that reflect the standard of crisis care needed to prevent tragedies of public and patient safety. The purpose of this course is to support social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, counselors, program managers, and direct care providers working with-in crisis care systems in providing effective crisis care that follows a set of national guidelines.

Clinicians can apply the best practice guidelines in this course as they offer universal access to the most appropriate services, supports, and resources to individuals experiencing mental health and substance use emergencies. This system focused learning material also offers providers with crisis system capacity modeling tools that can estimate crisis service needs. Other topics covered include and are not limited to tips for implementation, funding, and evaluation of system and provider performance.

Course Format

This course contains downloadable online lessons (PDF) and a practice test. When you're ready, purchase the course by clicking the "Add To Cart" button. This will let you take the test, complete the course evaluation and receive your certificate for CE credits.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the essential elements and qualities of a comprehensive crisis system as established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Explain the goals, operation, and coordination of crisis call services in the crisis care system.
  • Explain the goals, operations, and coordination of mobile crisis team services in crisis care system.
  • Explain the goals, operation, and coordination of crisis receiving and stabilization services in crisis care systems.
  • Describe unique challenges to the delivery of crisis care along with proposed resolutions.
  • Describe best practices, tools, and innovative approaches that support the advancement of crisis care.
  • Discuss the experiences of veteran crisis system leaders and previous crisis patients that helped inform SAMHSA's best practices for behavioral health crisis care.

Course Syllabus



Core Services and Best Practices

Core Elements

Crisis Call Hub Services

Mobile Crisis Team Services

Additional Elements of a System of Care

Crisis System Coordination

Essential Principles

Unique Challenges of Rural and Frontier Communities

Funding Crisis Care

Crisis Service Coding

Assessing Adequacy of System Capacity

Care for All Populations Throughout the Lifespan

Crisis Resource Need Calculator

Indicators of Insufficient Capacity

Tips for System Implementation

Workforce Development

Technology in Crisis Care

System Evaluation Tools

Monitoring System and Provider Performance

Marketing and Communication Efforts


Continuous Quality Improvement & Innovation

Case Studies


Interviews, provider #1115, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 07/08/21-07/08/24. Social workers completing this course receive 5 general continuing education credits.

We are committed to providing our learners with unbiased information. Ce4Less never accepts commercial support and our authors have no significant financial or other conflicts of interest pertaining to the material.


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