Mass. General Laws c.6A § 16EE

Crisis hotline center (988); commission

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(a)

As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context requires otherwise:

“Community behavioral health centers”, organizations that are designated by the executive office of health and human services, licensed clinics that hold a contract with the department of mental health to provide community-based mental health services and other licensed clinics designated by the department of public health.

“Community crisis stabilization program”, a program providing crisis stabilization services with the capacity for diagnosis, initial management, observation, crisis stabilization and follow-up referral services to all persons in a home-like environment, including, but not limited to, emergency service providers and restoration centers.

(b)

The secretary of health and human services shall designate at least 1 988 crisis hotline center that shall operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide crisis intervention services and crisis care coordination to individuals accessing the federally-designated 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline.

(c)

A 988 crisis hotline center shall: (i) meet the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Ambulatory Behavioral Health System standards and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline requirements and best practices guidelines for operational and clinical standards; (ii) provide data, report and participate in evaluations and related quality improvement activities as required by the United States Department of Health and Human Services; (iii) utilize technology, including, but not limited to, chat and text capabilities, that is interoperable between and across crisis and emergency response systems and services, including 911 and 211, as necessary; (iv) have the authority to deploy crisis and outgoing services, including mobile behavioral health crisis responders, and coordinate access to crisis triage, evaluation and counseling services, community crisis stabilization programs or other resources as appropriate; (v) maintain standing partnership agreements with community behavioral health centers and other behavioral health programs and facilities, including programs led by individuals who are or were consumers of mental health or substance use disorder supports or services; (vi) coordinate access to crisis evaluation, counseling, receiving and stabilization services for individuals accessing the 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline through appropriate information sharing regarding availability of services; (vii) have the capability to serve high-risk and specialized populations including, but not limited to, people with co-occurring substance use and mental health conditions and people with autism spectrum disorders or intellectual or developmental disabilities; (viii) have the capability to serve people of diverse races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations and gender identities with linguistically and culturally competent care; (ix) have the capability to provide crisis and outgoing services within a reasonable time period in all geographic areas of the commonwealth; and (x) provide follow-up services to individuals accessing the 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline.

(d)

(1)  There shall be a state 988 commission within the executive office of health and human services to provide ongoing strategic oversight and guidance in all matters regarding 988 service in the commonwealth.

(2)  The commission shall review national guidelines and best practices and make recommendations for implementation of a statewide 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis system, including any legislative or regulatory changes that may be necessary for 988 implementation and recommendations for funding that may include the establishment of user fees. The commission shall also advise on promoting the 988 number including, but not limited to, recommendations for including information about calling 988 on student identification cards and on signage in locations where there have been known suicide attempts.

(3)  The commission shall consist of: the secretary of health and human services or the secretary’s designee, who shall serve as chair; the secretary of public safety and security or the secretary’s designee; the commissioner of mental health or the commissioner’s designee; the commissioner of public health or the commissioner’s designee; the executive director of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership or the executive director’s designee; the executive director of the state 911 department or the executive director’s designee; the executive director of Mass 2-1-1 or the executive director’s designee; a representative designated by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Inc.; a 911 dispatcher designated by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Incorporated; an emergency medical technician or first responder nominated by the Massachusetts Ambulance Association, Incorporated; and the following members to be appointed by the chair: 1 representative from an emergency service provider, nominated by the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.; 1 representative from the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.; 1 representative from a suicide prevention hotline in the commonwealth, nominated by the Samaritans, Inc.; 1 representative from the Riverside Community Care, Inc. MassSupport program; 1 representative from the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention; 1 representative from the Children’s Mental Health Campaign; 1 representative from the INTERFACE Referral Service at William James College, Inc.; 1 representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts, Inc.; 1 representative from the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, Inc.; 1 representative from the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, Inc.; 1 representative from the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; 1 representative from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Inc.; 1 representative from the mental health legal advisors committee; and 3 persons who are or have been consumers of mental health or substance use disorder supports or services. Every reasonable effort shall be made to ensure representation from all geographic areas of the commonwealth.

(4)  Annually, not later than March 1, the commission shall submit its findings and recommendations to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives, the joint committee on mental health, substance use and recovery and the joint committee on health care financing.

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Last updated: August 10, 2022
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