Shaheen gets update on Manchester’s mental health mobile crisis response team

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Shaheen (center) and the panel. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. –  On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) heard from representatives of the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGC) and other stakeholders in a briefing on the center’s Mobile Crisis Response Team.

One of three such programs currently in New Hampshire alongside others in Concord and Nashua, the Mobile Crisis Response Team at the MHCGC provides direct and in-person support to children and young adults coping with mental health emergencies.

So far this year, the MHCGC has fielded 4,765 mobile crisis calls following 11,832 in 2020 and 10,307 in 2019.

Those assembled at the meeting told Shaheen that interventions from the program over the four years of the program’s existence have helped to return children back to normalcy much faster than if they required care in an emergency room setting.

Shaheen asked the panel for additional data to share with her colleagues in Washington to expand the concept to areas not currently serviced by MHCGC or the mental health agencies in Nashua or Concord.

“The model here with the mobile crisis unit is that it’s working, it’s working in Manchester and other places like at Londonderry High School where it helped recently. I think it’s important to see what’s working and see how we can replicate that and work in other parts of the state,” she said.

Members of the panel also warned Shaheen of a proposal by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services that would take state-level funding for mobile crisis response teams geared toward youth and re-allocate that money toward an all-age mobile crisis response team model at all 10 of the state’s regional mental health centers, diluting funds available for youth-specific mobile crisis response teams.

Patricia Carty, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MHCGC, told Shaheen that mobile crisis response teams are vital to regional mental health centers and help alleviate overstretched resources elsewhere in the state’s medical infrastructure. However, she also noted that mobile crisis response teams can be a budgetary drain due their “fire station” readiness requirement and cannot function properly without a strong foundation already in place at other parts of the regional mental health center.

“Certain programs like mobile crisis and emergency services require some funding to make them reasonable and effective in a way that serves the community,” said Carty. “I think it really has to be additive, when you build out something like a mobile crisis team, it has to be on top of something that you’re already providing, and something that has the level of staffing that can meet the need in a crisis situation.”