RI’s 1st mental health, addiction crisis center will open Nov. 14
In partnership with Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Community Care Alliance (CCA) and the State’s health and human services agencies, Horizon Healthcare Partners invited first responders, providers, stakeholders and members of the public for an open house and tour of the State’s new Behavioral Health Link Triage & Call Center (BH Link) before it opens on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
BH Link is a 24/7 facility for Rhode Islanders experiencing behavioral health crises, including substance use disorder, and for the families and friends of those individuals struggling to find help.
“This opening is a critical step in our efforts to better support Rhode Islanders living with mental and behavioral health issues,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “Often, when people need help, they need it right away. But for too long, that hasn’t been possible. This hotline and triage center will begin to bridge that gap. Rhode Islanders should know that recovery is possible, and that it’s OK to seek help.”
In January 2018, Governor Raimondo proposed creating a one-stop shop for behavioral health crises as part of her Fiscal Year 2019 budget to help ensure people with urgent mental health care needs are connected instantly and efficiently to the care they need. Most recent data show that about 15 percent of emergency room visits are behavioral health-related. Horizon Healthcare Partners, a Rhode Island-based network of mental health organizations, will operate the triage and call center.
“Horizon Healthcare Partners’ mission is to meet the behavioral health care needs of Rhode Islanders,” said Jim Ryczek, CEO of Horizon Healthcare Partners. “We are thrilled to partner with the Governor, EOHHS, BHDDH, Community Care Alliance, first responders and our many other community partners to deliver swift services and supports through BH Link. We look forward to providing the information, compassion, and help Rhode Islanders experiencing behavioral health crises need to recover, heal, and live happy lives.”
BH Link will provide immediate assistance and support with the help of a professional team of registered nurses, counselors, psychiatrists, phone screeners and peer specialists. Among the services that will be provided through BH Link are a crisis and suicide hotline, housing and basic needs referrals, mobile crisis services, short-term psychiatric services, substance use disorder assessments and education, domestic violence assessments/referrals and more.
BH Link complements the Administration’s broader efforts to tackle behavioral health issues in Rhode Island. In May 2018, the Governor also signed an Executive Order that directs state agencies to expand access to treatment for people living with mental illness or substance use disorders, ensure parity between physical and mental health, and encourage people to seek treatment when needed.
“We must continue to work toward breaking down mental health barriers in Rhode Island,” said Eric J. Beane, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “The first step is really holding those conversations with our loved ones and letting them know it’s OK to not be OK. We’ve made an effort to bring those discussions to the forefront across Rhode Island over the last few months as part of the Governor’s Executive Order. But the other piece of this speaks to part of EOHHS’ mission, which is to ensure Rhode Islanders have access to the services they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. No one should suffer in silence. BH Link will be a resource for those who need help and don’t know where to turn.”
“We know that treatment works and recovery is possible, but lack of access was a crucial missing element,” said BHDDH Director Rebecca Boss. “Whether someone is struggling with addiction, or needs support for a mental health condition, BH Link can provide the connection to the appropriate level of care. The focus of this program is providing services in the community – not in a hospital and not through the criminal justice system.”
In addition to providing access to a wide array of services for Rhode Islanders in crises, the facility’s staff will also work to ensure seamless transfers of ongoing behavioral health care.
"At Community Care Alliance we feel privileged to have played a role in the design and implementation of BH Link,” said Ben Lessing, CEO of Community Care Alliance. “CCA has a long and successful history in providing community-based crisis intervention and creating alternatives to using more traditional inpatient psychiatric hospital settings to provide care for individuals on distress. We believe BH Link will be a game changer in terms of providing access, stabilization and collaboration with community-based providers to better care for individuals experiencing mental health and addiction crises."
BH Link also received a $300,000 bridge loan for startup costs from Rhode Island Foundation, a community and philanthropic leader dedicated to improving economic, educational and health outcomes for Rhode Islanders.
“Impact investing is about aligning our financial investments with our mission. Creative, community-based behavioral health collaborations like this improve the health of Rhode Islanders, reduce costs and enhance the quality of care,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of Strategy and Community Investments at Rhode Island Foundation.
If you are having a mental health crisis or are a family member or friend who does not know where to turn for help, call 401-414-LINK (5465) or visit www.BHLink.org. The hotline and triage center will begin its 24/7 operations at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14.