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A Matter of Public Health and Safety: How States Can Support Local Crisis Systems

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2021

This report instructs states in how they can help local communities in funding and sustaining local crisis systems that will reduce harmful overreliance on police officers, hospitals, and jails in addressing mental health crises.


The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated and exposed the inadequate and inequitable features of local crisis systems in preventing and treating mental health crises, particularly among minority and poor communities. States can play a critical role in creating and advancing local crisis care systems. This paper proposes five actions states can take to fund and sustain local crisis systems. One recommendation is to increase direct state funding of local crisis systems through general funds and grants. A second recommendation is to leverage Medicaid, a jointly administered federal-state program, to obtain federal matching funds for crisis-related services. A third recommendation is to form partnerships to gain financial participation from non-public sectors. A fourth recommendation is to develop state policies with provisions related to increasing access to behavioral health resources and other supports. A fifth recommendation for states is to consider new financing models for public funds that are based on performance or value. In addition to expanding financial resources for the development and operation of local crisis systems, states can provide technical assistance for the development of local crisis systems. Such assistance should promote prevention of mental health crises, early intervention, response, and post-response. The features of such a system are discussed in the current report. Also addressed are essential components of a local crisis response system. Two case studies are provided to illustrate the features and effectiveness of two local crisis systems in action in Texas and Arkansas.

Date Published: June 1, 2021