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Big Picture: Continuum of Care

“988 is not just a new number to call – it is an opportunity to rethink how we approach mental health, substance use disorders, and suicide prevention in our communities.”

 –Consensus Approach and Recommendations [1]


The crisis response continuum of care describes the systematic changes and infrastructure needed to achieve the goals identified by SAMHSA:

  1. Strengthen and expand the safety net capabilities of the Lifeline, providing life-saving service to all who contact 988 and;

  2. Transform our country’s behavioral health crisis care system, so that services are available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.[2]

The continuum includes early identification and intervention, crisis centers, mobile response, stabilization centers, and post-crisis follow-up. While 988 crisis response will share some similarities to 911 emergency response, the continuum of care is designed to meet the unique needs of people with mental health challenges. Ideally, individuals will progress along the continuum via a series of warm hand-offs. Successful integration will need to involve a wide array of stakeholders. Policymakers should consider how to make each part of the system accessible and equitable to those in their district. 


[1] Consensus Approach and Recommendations for the Creation of a Comprehensive Crisis Response System | NAMI

[2] 988 Appropriations Report

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