A new bipartisan bill would connect people in crisis with check-in and outreach services to provide continuity of care.
Research shows that follow-ups can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a repeat suicide attempt.
Congressmen Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and David Trone (D-Md.) re-introduced the Continuity in Necessary Evaluative Crisis Treatment (CONNECT) Act to provide people who reach out to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline with potentially life-saving follow-up services.
The act would, if passed, allocate $30 million for a new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant program.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a “game changer” emergency call center for mental health and substance use crises, was launched on July 16, 2022.
“Since July 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has fielded millions of calls and texts and has significantly improved nationally the mental health continuum of care,” Raskin said in a statement. “The CONNECT Act will help us build on the success of 988 by providing our nation’s crisis call centers the resources they need to offer more follow-up services to at-risk callers.”
Follow-up services provided through the grant would include check-ins to determine risk, outreach to ensure participation in services and support systems and referrals as needed.
Services like these that seek to connect patients to their community and mental health care are especially important given the challenges associated with navigating the complicated US health system.
People who called the crisis center would be eligible to receive follow-ups through the grant program, as well as, individuals who received a response from a mobile crisis team or made a visit to an urgent behavioral health clinic or other short-term crisis care provider.
“This legislation will continue to ensure that every call for help is not only heard but also met with effective follow-up care,” Trone said in a statement. “It’s a testament to what we can achieve when we make health care accessible and affordable to everyone in every corner of the country.”
The CONNECT Act follows multiple recently-introduced bills that focus specifically on behavioral health.
The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act would, if passed, authorize up to $10 million in grants to increase rural residents’ access to virtual mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services.
The Requiring Enhanced & Accurate Lists of (REAL) Health Providers Act would strengthen requirements for Medicare Advantage plans to maintain accurate provider directories to prevent problems associated with “ghost networks.”