On January 27, 2017, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) convened more than 50 behavioral health service providers, health plan representatives, non-profit leaders, funders, family and patient advocates, and state and county leaders to create a 2017-18 community action plan focused on strengthening the Pittsburgh region’s capacity to respond to behavioral health crises among adolescents, from onset to stabilization.
The community action plan will serve as a catalyst for the multi-year (ABHI), which aims to improve access to effective services from crisis to stabilization among adolescents experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis in Allegheny County. Launched in the spring of 2016, the ABHI is guided by a 40-member advisory committee and is supported by JHF, the Staunton Farm Foundation, and The Pittsburgh Foundation.
During the January 27 event, community members broke into groups and developed action plans related to five components of adolescent behavioral health: coordination/communication, capacity and workforce, disruptive innovation, quality assurance and feedback, and research. Attendees then voted on which component they consider the highest priority, with care coordination/communication and disruptive innovation receiving the most support.
“We crowdsourced some key priorities for improving our region’s adolescent behavioral health services,” says JHF Director of Government Grants and Policy, who oversees the ABHI. “The attendees emphasized the importance of expanding evaluation and crisis response services in the community, to reduce the time from crisis to stabilization. We heard great ideas about deploying community paramedics for mental health. The participants also prioritized developing behavioral health concierge systems with peer supports to improve navigation and get the right information to the right person, at the right time. These insights will guide the ABHI in the years to come.”
“Identifying gaps in policies, systems, and practice for teens to receive timely, effective treatment and stabilization is crucial,” says Staunton Farm Foundation Executive Director Joni Schwager. “The group looked at out-of-the box ideas to be tested for future implementation. The Staunton Farm Foundation is happy to be part of the process of finding solutions.”
Beginning in February, JHF will partner with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (Pitt Public Health) to hold focus groups with families who have navigated the local adolescent behavioral health system. JHF and the Patients’ View Institute (PVI) are also gathering stories from families whose children have accessed behavioral health services. Both projects will help JHF and its community partners to map the continuum of local adolescent behavioral health services from crisis to stabilization, as well as identify and address gaps in care.