Why Mental Health Centers Need a Crisis Response Plan

crisis response plan

If you operate a behavioral health center, having a crisis response plan in place is a must. Learn how to plan for the event of a mental health or health emergency in the behavioral health setting.

What Is a Behavioral Health Crisis?

Behavioral health providers who offer intervention, treatment, and recovery services must be prepared for an unseen emergency. These sudden, unexpected events could potentially arise and put a patient or employee in danger. These events require immediate response to mitigate the possible health risks.

A behavioral health crisis might involve serious emotional or behavioral distress. This could arise in various forms, such as:

  • Disorientation
  • Dissociation
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal ideation or attempt.
  • Severe agitation.
  • Erratic behavior.
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Violent threats to others.
  • Sudden impairment in functioning.
  • Overdose

A crisis response plan relies on the coordination of a variety of actions that must take place right away. Medical intervention, psychiatric support, harm reduction efforts (Narcan), emergency transportation services, and possibly law enforcement are just a There could be a range of services needed in the event of a crisis.

Why Are Crisis Response Plans Necessary for Behavioral Health Centers?

Having a crisis management plan in place is a must. When the staff is well trained, the risk of bodily harm or property damage is dramatically reduced. Creating a crisis response plan allows the center to be well prepared to manage these common events. The crisis response actions protect the employees and patients from physical or emotional harm. These actions also protect the facility from legal problems.

In addition, emergency preparedness planning should include training for other types of unforeseen events. These might include fire, earthquake, flooding, or any other crisis event that involves the physical plant itself. Regular training and drills keep the staff prepared to act swiftly during these types of emergencies.

Steps to Creating a Crisis Response Plan

Preparing a crisis response plan takes careful planning that involves multiple stakeholders in the organization, as well as within the community. Having a crisis management plan in place actually relieves a great deal of stress. When employees have these tools in place they are better able to manage the emergency.

The steps to create a crisis response plan include:

  1. Create a leadership team. Decide which people in the organization will be involved in the crisis response planning. These team members collaborate on determining who will be responsible for which aspect of the planning process.
  2. Risk analysis. Start with brainstorming sessions among the team. Discuss and assess possible events that could result in bodily harm or property damage, and how to mitigate these risks.
  3. Determine the impact. The team identifies the potential adverse impact a crisis situation might have on the behavioral health center. They must consider a variety of negative outcomes. These include physical injury, insurance policy limitations, regulatory fines, damaged reputation in the industry and community, and lost revenues.
  4. Create a response plan. This step is where the actual planning takes place. As the team identifies what steps are necessary during a crisis, they will delegate these tasks evenly across the team. Each participant will be apprised of the specific role they play during the emergency event, including the chain of command.
  5. Reinforce the plan. To solidify the crisis response plan, the team will establish training sessions. It isn’t enough to just distribute the plan to the various team members and hope for the best. When a crisis occurs, the actions must be well rehearsed. Team members must practice the response using drills and training sessions to fully understand who does what and when.
  6. Have timely reviews and updates. The crisis response plan should be revisited annually. Update the team member’s as staffing changes, confirm contact numbers for emergency services are current and distribute the updated plan.

IF you follow these six steps you should have the basic structure upon which to devise a highly effective crisis response plan.

Your Crisis Response Plan Checklist

Once the team has completed the crisis response plan, be sure to make the plan easily accessible and simple to use. Review the following checklist to ensure that the plan is comprehensive:

  • Are our core action elements noted, easy to grasp, and prioritized?
  • Is there a plan for crisis communication between team members and outside services?
  • Does the plan include a section about noting early warning signs, such as the signs a patient’s mental health state is deteriorating or that a patient has relapsed?
  • Is your plan consistent with your organization’s values and mission statement?
  • Are the response actions clearly stated and mapped out?
  • Do you have a command center identified?
  • Is there a clear chain of command in the crisis response team?
  • Is there a plan for communicating the emergence of a crisis with other team members?
  • Do you have contact information for all stakeholders and auxiliary service providers?
  • Have you created a training plan?

Getting Help for Creating a Crisis Response Plan

When you run a mental health center, it can be a challenge just to complete the daily to-do list. The days are packed and demands are never-ending. Why not access the expert support of a consulting firm that can take this important task off your shoulder?

A consultancy is well versed in the process involved in making an effective crisis response plan. Crisis planning is just one of many areas of expertise these professionals provide. Partnering with a consultant allows you to keep pushing forward in your leadership role at the center. Meanwhile, the consultant creates a plan for your operation, preparing it for an unexpected crisis event.

There is no doubt your mental health center or addiction rehab needs a crisis response plan. Partner with an expert in this field to prepare your center, should the unthinkable happen.

Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions Provides Consulting Services for the Behavioral Health Industry

Circa Behavioral Healthcare Solutions offers consultant services for addiction and mental health providers. Our team is proficient in creating crisis response action plans and is looking forward to being of service to you. Call us today at (888) 458-6619.