April 22, 2021 – The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Trust) recently awarded three grants, totaling $937,500, to Fairbanks organizations to support improvements to the community’s response to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. These grants represent a significant step in efforts led by the Trust, in partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) and community partners, to improve our systems that respond to Alaskans in crisis.
As a part of this effort, the Trust and partners are working to implement the nationally recognized Crisis Now model, consisting of a continuum of services that are working in many communities to improve mental health crisis response, prevent suicide, and reduce reliance on law enforcement, emergency rooms, and jails when responding to crises. The components of the model include a regional or statewide crisis call center, centrally deployed, 24/7 mobile crisis teams (ideally, a clinician and a peer), and 23-hour crisis stabilizations centers and short-term crisis residential centers.
The grants awarded for Fairbanks will support ongoing coordination with local government, emergency services, law enforcement, and community healthcare stakeholders to implement enhanced crisis response, and will support a Fairbanks mobile crisis team. Mobile crisis teams, an essential component of crisis response, are available 24/7 to deploy a behavioral health clinician and peer to respond in-person to the individual in crisis.
“I’m grateful the Trust can fund real improvements to how Fairbanks responds to individuals in crisis, and that we can demonstrate how these services can work in Alaska,” said Rhonda Boyles, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority Board Secretary and former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor. “We appreciate the efforts of our grantees and the many organizations in Fairbanks that will ultimately be a part of fully implementing enhanced crisis response in the community.”
The grants include:
· $130,400 to the City of Fairbanks for a Crisis Response Community Coordinator. This position will be housed in the Mayor’s Office and will serve as a liaison between the Fairbanks Crisis Response Community Implementation Team, the Trust, and key stakeholders.
· $457,067 to Alaska Behavioral Health to fund professional mental health clinicians who will jointly staff the Fairbanks mobile crisis team, operated in partnership with The Bridge and the City of Fairbanks.
· $350,000 to The Bridge (Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living) to fund Peer Support Specialists that will jointly staff the Fairbanks mobile crisis team, operated in partnership with Alaska Behavioral Health and the City of Fairbanks. Peers are individuals with lived experience who are in recovery from mental health disorders and/or substance abuse.
“As more and more community partners learn about this model, we are seeing real momentum in efforts to implement an improved crisis response framework in Fairbanks,” said Mike Sanders, incoming Crisis Response Coordinator for the City of Fairbanks. “We appreciate all that the Trust and DHSS have done to convene the many stakeholders who will play a role in improving how we collectively respond to those experiencing a crisis and look forward to helping lead this effort.”
The Trust grants, on average, $25 million a year to Alaska organizations that serve Trust beneficiaries, including various nonprofits, state agencies, and projects that promote long-term system change and/or innovative projects that improve the lives and circumstances of Trust beneficiaries.
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