Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Mental Health Association of Nebraska

Name of Innovative Program: 
Hospital/Crisis Diversion Services: Law Enforcement Crisis Referral
Sponsoring Organization
Mental Health Association of Nebraska
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Kasey Moyer
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Recovery based peer support is an evidence-based practice providing non-clinical services to achieve long-term recovery from severe behavioral health challenges.  Peer support services are voluntary and individually driven, providing the person with the knowledge and skills necessary to gain and maintain their mental wellness, thus lessening the likelihood of invasive and expensive crisis level medical services. MHA-NE’s Hospital/Crisis Diversion Services include the Keya House (crisis respite), peer support pilot project in the Bryan Medical Center Psychiatric Department, and Law Enforcement Crisis Referral.Law Enforcement Crisis Referral is a unique collaboration between MHA-NE and the Lincoln Police Department (LPD), where patrol officers refer adults in psychiatric distress (but not a danger to themselves or others) via email to the program.  Trained peers then attempt to contact the individual and then respond back to the officer within 24-48 hours. Support services provided include wellness education and problem solving, basic needs assistance, social integration, and accessing community behavioral and physical health services.  In its 2 years of operation, the project has generated 448 referrals from 158 officers requesting follow-up support services.  Program outcomes show the effectiveness of services through reduced reliance on law enforcement for non-crisis mental health interventions and inappropriate hospital admissions. 
Creativity and Innovation: 
This program benefits the community and can be seen at multiple levels.  The individual in distress has access to less-intensive recovery services without the life disruption caused by emergency protective custody and extended hospitalization.  Traditional service providers see the benefit arising from people receiving the level of care they need, thus lessening demand for emergency level services and lowering the likelihood of providing uncompensated services.  For law enforcement, preemptive services lessen the likelihood of future police involvement, thus allowing officers to be availability for other activities.  The community benefits when people receive the level of service they need at the time they need them, increasing the likelihood that they remain in their homes, stay employed and connected with family and friends. This unique and effective program was the recipient of the 2013 NACM Innovation Award and 2012 Community Health Endowment Horizon Award for its innovative design and meaningful outcomes. 
The Mental Health Association of Nebraska (MHA-NE) is a peer-run organization providing non-clinical, recovery oriented services including supported employment, comprehensive benefits analysis and hospital/crisis diversion services.  All programs are designed, implemented and delivered by people with lived experience with mental health issues, and all programs are accredited by CARF International under Community Employment Services, Comprehensive Benefits Analysis and Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Prevention and Diversion.MHA-NE leadership are members of numerous local, state and national boards and committees including National Association for Case Management (NACM) Board of Directors, NE State Advisory Committee for Mental Health Services, Magellan of Nebraska Behavioral Health Governance Board, and the Community Justice Center Board of Directors.  In addition, the MHA-NE Executive Director is a CARF Accreditation Surveyor conducting surveys in the United States and Canada. 
The Law Enforcement Crisis Referral Program is funded through the generous support of the Community Health Endowment of Lincoln.  In order to expand the availability of crisis diversion services in Lincoln and Lancaster County, MHA-NE is developing service agreements with other local law enforcement and emergency service providers including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department, the Lancaster County Sheriff and Lincoln Fire and Rescue.At the request of Lincoln Mayor Beutler, MHA-NE and LPD staff presented at the joint meeting of the Lincoln City Council and Lancaster County Commissioner’s meeting in December, 2013 on the operation and outcomes from this program.  Given the program outcomes to date, there is strong interest in the continuation of this important service.
MHA-NE staff have facilitated workshops nationally on peer supported crisis diversion services at conferences including the National Council for Community Behavioral Health, NACM, Alternatives, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), Iowa Mental Health Conference, Mental Health America Regional Conference, and the Nebraska Statewide Behavioral Health Conference.Staff have also consulted with peers and other service providers in the design and implementation of recovery oriented crisis diversion and supported employment services in Michigan, Massachusetts, Alabama, Colorado and Iowa.
The Law Enforcement Crisis Referral Program was implemented in September, 2011, and has received:
  • Total Referrals                                                448
  • Total Officers Referring                                  158
  • Total Successful Contacts                              248      (45%)
  • Total Accepted Peer Services                        202      (77%)
LPD data indicates individual mental health investigation recidivism has dropped 92.5% and overall law enforcement contact dropped 59.5% after referral and successful contact by peers. LPD estimates that the contact hours diverted to peers is equal to 2 FTE police officers, hours officers now can use for other law enforcement activities. LPD Captain Joseph Wright:  “The comment I’ve received most often from officers is that in the past they ‘kept going out on the guy time after time but after referral we never see them again’.”