Course summary

Practice Level: Intermediate

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

Effective crisis systems must strive to assess and attend to the individual needs of anyone experiencing a crisis. According to SAMSHA’s National Guidelines, an effective crisis continuum includes centralized crisis hotlines, mobile crisis teams, and crisis receiving and stabilization facilities that can care for “anyone, anywhere, anytime.” Unfortunately, there is work to be done to ensure crisis care is accessible to all, especially for young people, members of diverse populations, and for those experiencing homelessness and/or struggling with substance use disorders. Crisis Service Papers Building on SAMHSA’s National Guidelines discusses the special considerations and crisis care response needs of these groups of people. The purpose of this course is to support social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, counselors, program managers, and direct care providers working within crisis care systems to expand and enhance prevention and intervention crisis strategies that best serve the most vulnerable populations.

Clinicians can expand their knowledge on the barriers to managing behavioral health crises for specific populations and ways to combat those barriers, which will help them contribute more effectively within a crises system. This practice-focused learning material also offers providers an overarching view of the core crisis system components needed for vulnerable populations. Other topics covered include and are not limited to crisis practices specific to people with substance use disorders, challenges and implications of treating diverse populations, and strategies to prevent or identify early behavioral health challenges in children and adolescents. Upon completion of this course, providers will be able to improve crisis service implementation for a variety of population groups at risk of receiving inequitable and inefficient crisis support.

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” or “Enroll” button. This will let you take the test, complete the course evaluation and receive your certificate for CE credits.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify barriers to managing behavioral health crisis faced by individuals who experience homelessness.

2. Describe effective behavioral health crisis care for individuals experiencing homelessness.

3. Identify considerations for addressing substance use in each of the core components of behavioral health crisis care.

4. Explain challenges to and recommendations for providing equitable treatment to diverse and vulnerable populations in varied crisis settings.

5. Describe the negative effects of the existing crisis system on children and adolescents.

6. Recognize effective child and adolescent crisis care responses.

Course Syllabus

Effective Behavioral Health Crisis Care for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Executive Summary


  • Barriers and Risk Factors Faced by Individuals Who Experience Homelessness
  • The Intersection of Homeless Individuals with Behavioral Health Crisis Response Systems

Responding to Homeless Individuals in Crisis: Essential Principles and Practices

  • Ensure that Crisis System Components are Responsive to the Needs of Homeless Individuals
  • Incorporate Interventions that Effectively Engage Homeless Individuals
  • Proactively Collaborate with Homeless Housing Systems and Law Enforcement
  • COVID-19 Considerations for Responding to Individuals Experiencing Homelessness


Addressing Substance Use in Behavioral Health Crisis Care: A Companion Resource to the SAMHSA Crisis Toolkit


  • Person-Centered Care: Integrating Mental and Substance Use Disorders Within the Crisis System

Core Services and Best Practices

  • Regional Crisis Call Centers
  • Mobile Crisis Team Services
  • Crisis Receiving and Stabilization Services

Core Principles and Essential Partnerships

  • Applying Core Principles to SUD: Addressing Recovery Needs
  • Applying Core Principles to SUD: Significant Role for Peers
  • Applying Core Principles to SUD: Crisis Response Partnerships

Financing Strategies

Impact and Lessons Learned from COVID-19

  • Crisis Services for Substance Use Disorders Examined with a Racial Equity Lens


Crisis Services: Addressing Unique Needs of Diverse Populations

Executive Summary

  • Recommendations

Crisis Services: Addressing Unique Needs of Diverse Populations

  • Introduction
  • Racially, Ethnically, and Experientially Diverse Populations in Crisis Settings
  • Persons with Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Crisis Settings
  • Medically Complex Care in Crisis Settings
  • Infectious Diseases in Crisis Settings with Lessons Learned from COVID-19
  • Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Involvement in Crisis Settings
  • Implications and Conclusions

Improving the Child and Adolescent Crisis System: Shifting from a 9-1-1 to a 9-8-8 Paradigm


Challenges with the Current Child and Adolescent Crisis System

  • Limited Prevention, Early Identification and Intervention
  • Misuse of Emergency Departments (EDs)
  • Law Enforcement Involvement in Child Behavioral Health Crises
  • Racism and Inequity

A Paradigm Shift

Working Upstream: Prevention and Early Intervention in Child and Adolescent Crisis

  • Schools
  • Pediatric Primary Care
  • Community Partners

Best Practice Considerations for Child and Adolescent Crisis Systems

  • Regional Crisis Call Hub Services (Someone to Talk To)
  • Mobile Crisis Team Services (Someone to Respond)
  • Crisis Receiving and Stabilization Services (A Place to Go)

Examples and Outcomes of Child and Adolescent Crisis Response Systems

  • Arizona: Crisis Response Center (CRC)
  • Connecticut: Mobile Crisis Intervention Services
  • Nevada: Children’s Mobile Crisis Response System Rural Team

Crisis Lessons and Innovations from COVID-19




The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA leads public health efforts that advance the behavioral health of the nation. On SAMHSA states that its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on communities in America.

Will Cook, PhD

William A. Cook, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who worked for 15 years in private practice in Montana before leaving his practice to work full time as the Director of CE4Less. He earned his doctorate degree from Texas A&M University, and focused much of his psychology practice in the area of child and family counseling, as well as psychological testing. Dr. Cook likes new challenges, foreign traveling to Africa and areas of Europe and the near East, scuba diving, running, music, and spending time with his family.

Accreditation Approval Statements is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. maintains responsibility for this program and its content., 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: 08/08/21-08/08/24. Social workers completing this course receive 6 general continuing education credits. has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6991. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Courses have been approved by, as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for educational credits. NAADAC Provider #91345 is responsible for all aspects of the programming.

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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