Programs Offer Better Alternatives to Individuals in Crisis
By George Harris, Benchmark Director, Georgia
Benchmark Human Services (Benchmark) has been delivering crisis services in Georgia since 2011, but the Benchmark’s crisis roots go back 15 years to when the company ran a state-wide crisis intervention program in Indiana. Over the last decade and a half, Benchmark has served and supported thousands of individuals in the midst of a behavioral crisis. When peers and clinicians trained in de-escalation techniques intervene in a behavioral crisis situation, the outcomes are typically much better for the individual in distress.
Benchmark’s mission is to ensure the people we serve achieve independence, are successfully integrated into the communities in which they live, and are able to reach their maximum potential. Crisis services enable those who are suffering a behavioral crisis to do just that, by preventing more serious consequences to these episodes such as being arrested, inappropriate admission to an inpatient hospital, loss of placement and living environment, and other life-changing and stressful situations. A successful intervention means the individual can get back to their lives or move on to achieve new goals as soon as possible.
Many state governments and other funders are seeing the value in these types of services, and movements such as Defund the Police are shedding light on the need for more clinical-based behavioral health interventions and services throughout communities. Benchmark is proud to be on the front lines, providing these programs as well as in-home crisis services to children and adults in the state of Georgia. We are also working with other states to develop resources and programs surrounding these issues.
In 2019, Benchmark was awarded an RFP to assist Alabama in the development of three crisis stabilization units to serve individuals with a behavioral health diagnosis in crisis in the community. Benchmark developed an RFP that was awarded to three Alabama mental health centers and is providing technical assistance to these centers as they are in the start-up phase. In addition, Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama, has put money into her 2022 budget to add a fourth crisis center.
In December 2020, Anthem Insurance awarded Benchmark a contract in Arkansas to work with Summit Community Care to assist providers serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are prone to behavioral health crisis, in building capacity to mitigate crisis and more successfully serve those individuals.
Though the primary goal of each of these programs is to help individuals get through the behavioral health crisis safely and with as little negative impact as possible, there are added benefits for the individual and other entities including a significant reduction in overall costs to states and/or payer sources. Mostly however, programs like behavioral crisis intervention mean individuals with behavioral health needs have a better shot at a full life, and that’s something I’m incredibly honored to be a part of.