Crisis Care is a Vital Campus Service, but How Do You Choose the Right Provider?

When students are in serious mental distress, they need immediate care. Partnering with the right crisis care provider is a necessity as more and more students face mental health emergencies. Results from a 2020 Active Minds survey found that crises among college students are not just a possibility, but an expectation. Among the more than 2,000 students surveyed, 39% reported experiencing a significant mental health issue. 

If mental health crises go unaddressed, there may be grave consequences. According to a 2020 CDC report, one in four college-age youth have contemplated suicide. Crisis care providers – and 24/7 crisis lines – can provide students with the care they need, whenever and wherever they need it. 

On college campuses, mental health crises occur all the time – and administrators need to be prepared. Investing in a crisis care provider can save lives.

Key Considerations When Selecting a Crisis Provider 

Mental health crisis services are just as essential as medical emergency care centers. When choosing a provider for your campus, the goal is to connect students with the highest quality of care available. As you compare crisis care providers and the value they provide, here are four domains to consider:

Training and Expertise 

If a crisis isn’t mitigated, it can become dangerous and deadly. To ensure your students receive the highest quality care, make sure you assess the expertise of a provider. How long have they been providing crisis care? What is their experience working with students with diverse backgrounds? All staff members and crisis counselors should be trained in culturally competent care, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to ensure responsiveness to the unique and intersectional identities of patients. They should also receive comprehensive and ongoing training in crisis support and suicide intervention strategies. 

Peer support workers with lived experience of mental health or substance abuse disorders are often the most helpful counselors on crisis lines, as they can relate without judgment and act as models for recovery, but they should have the round-the-clock support of mental health professionals should an emergency escalate. 

Financial Costs

Sustained and stable funding is important to ensure consistent, widespread access to services. Be aware of the nuances of your financial investment. Calling and messaging rates—hang-ups, wrong numbers, unused call time, etc.—can incur unexpected costs. When reviewing a crisis line provider, ask about roll-over calls, hang-ups, and how your hours are utilized. Will extra hours roll-over month to month or do you lose them?

Mental Health Resources 

A crisis line creates an opportunity to increase awareness of available services. Providers can tap into the power of the college community by holding informational mental health sessions with coaches, administrators, professors and others who may have opportunities to recognize signs of a student in crisis. 

Crisis care providers can support continued learning. Best practices and additional data-backed mental health resources can be shared with college administration and staff workers to bolster their capabilities in recognizing crises. 

Personalization

It can be impactful for students to feel like their mental health support is coming directly from the college or university. When securing a provider, you should inquire about the option to personalize the call line. 

You should also consider the language needs of your student body. You may have deaf or hard of hearing students, or students who speak English as a second language. Of the millions of U.S. residents with limited English proficiency, about 64% are Spanish speakers. Providers should be able to offer bilingual crisis support. Didi Hirsch, for example, has Spanish-speaking and Korean-speaking counselors, in addition to translation services.

Connect Students to Quality Crisis Care

The adoption of crisis lines by institutions of higher education comes at a time of such high demand as people all around the country face a rising mental health crisis. No longer do people in crisis have to call 911 for emergency mental health care. Congress has mandated 988 as the new national suicide hotline, which will be implemented in July 2022. The hotline will connect callers to local crisis counselors who can provide emotional support and immediate assistance for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services. 

According to the New York State 988 Implementation Plan Report, “Crisis counselors will thoroughly assess the risk of each caller and assist with the development of a personalized safety plan. Statistics show that 80% of crises are resolved at the call center level, demonstrating the effectiveness of crisis counselors’ ability to defuse mental health crises and suicidal ideations without the need for in- person intervention.” 

Mantra Health has partnered with Didi Hirsch, the nation’s first suicide prevention center, that has been around for more than 80 years. Together, we are working with universities to provide a 24/7 bilingual crisis line counseling to students. Didi Hirsch specializes in suicide prevention, mental health, and substance use, and is California’s partner in the national 988 crisis line launch. You can learn more about this vital partnership and how you can benefit from it here.

If you or someone you know is in a mental health emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.