Mental Health

In your moment of crisis, our Emergency Mental Health Response Services team can help you with a number of supportive programs and services.

Support and Guidance for Everyone

Crisis Services is available to assist anyone who is experiencing or has experienced a mental health crisis. While everyone will experience crisis in our lifetimes, our trained Crisis First Responders are ready to support YOUR unique needs. Reach out today to see how we can help guide you on the right path for recovery.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline 716-834-3131

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost for your services?

Services in the CIT and MTS programs are both free of charge, as these services are funded by the Erie County Department of Mental Health and a federal SAMHSA grant. Mental health evaluations done by Mobile Outreach are a billable service, covered by most insurance plans, so Outreach Counselors will ask for insurance information at the time of intake or home visit. However, services will never be denied due to an inability to pay. 

If I call, are you going to make me, or my loved one, go to the hospital?

One of the primary goals of all EMHRS services is hospital diversion! We would like to help you to stay out of the hospital whenever this is safely possible. Only in situations where you, or your loved one, are an immediate danger to self or others would a transport be a possible outcome. We want you to stay safe in the community with the support and resources that you need.

What happens when I call in about a loved one in an immediate crisis?

In most cases of an immediate crisis, your call will be transferred to our Mobile Outreach Team, who will collect some information from you and help to set up a plan to assist. In most cases, the team (which includes a licensed mental health professional) will go see your loved one at their home, or other safe and confidential setting in the community. We encourage family involvement whenever this is possible. In addition to providing rapid crisis intervention services and assessment, we can provide linkage to ongoing mental health services in the community. We will walk you through the process, so please don’t hesitate to call.

Our Programs

Mobile Outreach Program

The Mobile Outreach Program is the mobile unit of Erie County Medical Center’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP). This program provides community-based mental health intervention to individuals in Erie County who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The main goal of the program is to divert individuals from unnecessary presentations at local psychiatric emergency rooms and to provide these individuals the services they need in order to remain safely in the community.

The Mobile Outreach Program receives referrals from other community mental health agencies, family members, police, friends, neighbors, landlords, or anybody else concerned about the welfare of an individual who appears to be experiencing a mental health crisis. Criteria used in assessing the situation include deterioration of mental health status or an increase in mental health symptoms, coupled with acute emotional distress, thoughts of suicide or wanting to hurt oneself, thoughts of harm to others, physical aggression to others, and/or refusal of psychiatric or medical care because of impaired insight or judgment.

Please be advised that due to current significant staff shortages, the services of our Mobile Outreach Program will be temporarily operating Monday through Friday only, effective Saturday, April 9th. There will be no weekend hours.

Our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, however, remains fully operational by calling 716-834-3131. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
24-Hour Crisis Hotline 716-834-3131

How Our Mobile Outreach Program Helps

We know everyone’s path to a healthy recovery is different, which is why we offer a multitude of assessments and evaluations to fit the needs of each individual.

Telephone Assessment

Staff is able to provide assessment over the phone and determine appropriate levels of intervention.

Assessment

A team of two professionals, including at least one licensed social worker or mental health counselor, can provide face-to-face mental health evaluation and lethality assessment for the individual in crisis. Generally, this is done in the individual’s home, but can also be done at any safe and private location in the community, such as a counselor’s office, a medical facility, or a police station. The goal of the assessment is to stabilize the crisis and assess for the need for referral to additional community services.

9.45 Evaluation

While the goal of an assessment is to stabilize the crisis and divert the individual from unnecessary presentation at a psychiatric emergency room, sometimes this is not possible. In order to preserve safety and prevent an individual from harming oneself or others, an involuntary transport to a psychiatric hospital is sometimes necessary. Staff is responsible for assessing whether an individual meets the criteria under Section 9.45 of the New York State Mental Hygiene Law. If this is the case, the individual is transported to Erie County Medical Center for further evaluation by a psychiatrist who determines the need for psychiatric admission.

Jail Diversion

This service is available to law enforcement officers who encounter an individual who appears to be mentally decompensated and has committed a low-level, non-violent, victimless crime. In lieu of arrest, law enforcement can contact the Mobile Outreach Program to provide assessment and a 9.45 evaluation to determine if a hospital transport or linkage to services is more appropriate for the individual than an arrest.

Community Linkage

Staff link individuals in the community in order to maintain mental health and stability. Such linkages may include outpatient counseling, psychiatry, peer support, case management, social services, or housing.

Consultation

Staff is available for consultation regarding the best course of action for an individual and can access psychiatric consultation 24-Hours a day.

Mobile Transitional Support Program (MTS)

This program provides clinical intervention services to individuals that are being released from inpatient psychiatric stays at Erie County Medical Center and Buffalo Psychiatric Center.  Referrals to this program can only be made by discharge planners at these two hospitals, through an arranged referral process.  Individuals referred to this program will receive short-term clinical intervention and peer services from a team of MTS Counselors and Peer Specialists, while they are transitioning to ongoing outpatient services.

The team works in collaboration with discharge planners, as well as outpatient service providers.  The goal of this service is to keep individuals from presenting at local psychiatric emergency rooms for hospital readmission, and to see that these individuals effectively transition back to the community and are securely linked with appropriate outpatient services identified in the discharge plan.

CIT-Crisis Case Management Program

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training Project, is led by Crisis Services. This program provides short-term crisis case management services to individuals with mental illness who interface regularly with law enforcement. Individuals must live in towns/jurisdictions whose police agency has a trained CIT Team. Most referrals to this program come from CIT Officers, but referrals from other sources can be considered if the individual otherwise meets program criteria.

The goal of CIT-Crisis Case Management is to decrease interactions with law enforcement and increase linkages with mental health services in the community, as well as diversion (when appropriate) from local psychiatric emergency rooms and jails. In addition, individuals with higher needs can be admitted to longer-term case management services that use the MISSION-Vet intervention model.

Police Mental Health Coordination Project

The Police Mental Health Coordination Project (PMHCP) began in 1990 as a collaborative effort involving key representatives of police agencies, psychiatric hospitals, emergency mental health services, the legal community, consumers, and local and state government in Erie County. The goal of the PMHCP is to increase collaboration and communication between law enforcement and mental health agencies in an effort to improve the quality of services to individuals with mental illness.

Project members meet bi-monthly and collaborate on an ongoing basis to develop a shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement officers, mental health service providers, consumer advocates, and community members, to respond to the needs of individuals with mental illness and their families. Project meetings are an opportunity to learn about the strengths and challenges of where we are today, and to work together to improve the community’s response to individuals with mental illness.

The PMHCP strives to create and develop the necessary collaborative relationships in the community and to serve as the lead forum for ongoing discussion around emergency mental health concerns for all of Erie County. Housed within the PMHCP is Crisis Services’ Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Project. The CIT Project is aimed at developing CIT Teams in all police agencies in Erie County.

Click here for more information on the CIT-Crisis Case Management Program.

For additional information on the PMHCP, please contact Tracie Bussi, Police Mental Health Coordination Project Coordinator, at 716-834-2310 x4427 or tbussi@crisissservices.org.

PMHCP Committee Member Log In

Crisis Training for Law Enforcement

The Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) Project, housed within Crisis Services’ Police Mental Health Project, is aimed at developing CIT Teams in all Erie County police agencies. CIT is specialized training for law enforcement for responding to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The training focuses on the identification of a mental health crisis and the referral to appropriate resources in the community. In particular, the immediate linkage to programs within Crisis Services, such as the Mobile Outreach Program or the CIT-Crisis Case Management Program.
Through the training, police agencies create CIT Teams; teams of officers within each jurisdiction designated to respond to calls on individuals with a mental health crisis. Nationally, CIT has been shown to be effective in responding to individuals with a mental health crisis, focusing on improved care being provided to individuals with a mental health crisis, and creating increased trust within the community. In addition, CIT has shown to be cost-effective for the community and law enforcement, reduce the use of force by officers, and reduce officer injury. It focused on jail and hospital diversion when appropriate, and encourages linkage to community services. More information on CIT can be found at http://www.citinternational.org
CIT Police PortalCIT Dispatch Portal

Since 2015, CIT teams have been developed
in the following police departments:

The following departments
have officers trained in CIT:

Amherst Police Department
Buffalo Police Department
Cheektowaga Police Department
City of Tonawanda Police Department
Orchard Park Police Department
Springville Police Department
Town of Evans Police Department
Town of Tonawanda Police Department
City of Tonawanda Police Department
University at Buffalo Police Department
Orchard Park Police Department
West Seneca Police Department

Lancaster Police Department
Depew Police Department
Town of Hamburg Police Department
Village of Hamburg Police Department
Kenmore Police Department
Lackawanna Police Department
Grand Island Police Department
Eden Police Department
Erie County Sheriff’s Department
NYS Police
NFTA
SPCA
Erie County Probation
ECMC Police
Kaleida Health Police

If you’re interested in CIT training, please contact tbussi@crisissservices.org.

Do you have the skills, experience, and compassion to be a Crisis Services First Responder or volunteer?

There are opportunities to help at Crisis Services.