Endeavor Health Services has partnered with police departments to embed a behavioral health clinician in the department to form a Behavioral Health Team (BHT), as part of a co-responder model. Utilizing evidence based practices of Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®) and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, the BHT provides immediate screening, assessment, crisis stabilization, follow-up and linkage to appropriate services for people in need of support due to mental illness, substance use, poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, abuse, and/or trauma. The BHT helps individuals to stay safe and healthy in their community.
Cities and counties across the country have utilized the co-responder model to improve how they engage with individuals who may be experiencing behavioral health issues. While there are many different co-responder models in use across the country, the “co-responder framework typically features a specially trained team that includes at least one law enforcement officer and one mental health or substance abuse professional responding jointly to situations in which a behavioral health crisis is likely to be involved, often in the same vehicle, or arriving on scene at generally the same time.”1
According to the same journal, “There are many benefits to the co-responder model, including reduced pressure on the justice system and stronger linkages to community supports.” The “model often results in a decrease in expensive arrests and jail admissions for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.”
The co-responder model with the Buffalo Police Department and the Endeavor Behavioral Health Team has been operating since last fall, and has successfully diverted 35% of the individuals with whom we have been in contact. During September 2020, we successfully diverted 20 individuals, made contact with 57 individuals, and had a total of 115 interactions. We will continue to evaluate our current process in order to improve our statistics.
The Behavioral Health Team launched over a year ago with funding through the Town of Cheektowaga, New York, and thanks to funding from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, we were able to expand the program to the Buffalo Police Department.
The role of the community coordination cannot be emphasized enough when developing co-response teams. “When law enforcement responds to calls for services involving individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis, it is often related to unmet treatment needs, not major crimes or violence.”1 Endeavor has almost 50 years of experience providing treatment and coordinating care across all of the systems in Western New York. Gaps in the infrastructure and unmet needs are the precursors to incidents and crises.
Serving the community of Western New York since 1972, Endeavor Health Services is a private not for profit licensed behavioral health organization that serves individuals challenged by mental health and/or substance use issues across their lifespan. Our mission is to collaborate with consumers, families and communities to promote wellness and recovery, through a variety of mental health and substance use treatment, education and support services.
Endeavor is one of 13 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in New York State, and is a founding member of Value Network IPA, a Behavioral Health Care Collaborative (BHCC) in Western New York. We achieved the lowest Plan All-Cause Readmission rate across New York State during the first year of the program, and had a 97% engagement and follow-up rate after hospitalization with clients. Last year, we served over 5,000 clients and provided almost 52,000 visits.
1 Policy Research Inc., Responding to Individuals in Behavioral Health Crisis via Co-Responder Models: The Roles of Cities, Counties, Law Enforcement, and Providers, January 2020.