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Accreditation drives crisis response excellence

With the implementation of 988 fast approaching in July 2022, crisis expertise is important now more than ever. (If you’re not familiar with 988, the number will provide immediate access to a network of crisis centers prepared to respond to mental health crises similar to the access 911 provides to services for medical emergencies.) Driven by legislation calling for the enhancement of crisis and suicide prevention hotlines and the creation of 988, there is renewed focus on crisis-specific accreditation that promotes excellence in crisis response through standardized best practices and training. It is strongly recommended by healthcare experts, lawmakers and regulatory bodies such as Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  

For behavioral health and crisis services providers looking to be an active part of the 988 network, accreditation from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) demonstrates the commitment to quality and clinical expertise to do just that.

Accreditation helps the 988 network prepare to respond quickly and expertly to the tremendous need, ultimately providing a life-saving service. Recently Beacon Health Options was honored to become accredited by AAS. Linda Henderson-Smith, head of crisis programs for Beacon Health Options, said:

“AAS is the leading accreditation organization in the crisis space,” says Linda Henderson-Smith, Senior Product Director at Beacon Health Options. “Their reputation for being the gold standard and their collaborative process for accreditation made them a clear choice.”

For decades, AAS has accredited crisis centers and service providers who want to ensure they are doing what is best for staff, volunteers and the individuals they serve. Additionally, AAS regularly highlights service delivery programs that perform to and above nationally recognized standards.

Accreditation is one of the best ways to ensure continuous quality improvement and promote better outcomes in healthcare. It also promotes mental health equity as individuals in crisis who obtain service from AAS-accredited programs are assured that staff and volunteers have proven their commitment to culturally competent practices. During Beacon’s review the surveyor noted, “The organization provides training on cultural competence, provides material that is diverse and gets input to ensure its services continue to learn and grow. The time, energy and effort spent in this area is superb and the plans are some of the best this surveyor has seen.”

The process encourages provider teams to compare their organization’s information and practices to current standards. It also presents the opportunity to leverage accreditation status in the interest of transparent marketing and fundraising activities. Site surveys are conducted by individuals active in the field of suicide prevention and crisis center work. These surveys benefit crisis centers and providers immensely, as the examiners bring invaluable input that allows them to focus on quality improvement, business practices and fundraising enhancements.

AAS accreditation drives excellence in crisis response, enhances credibility and boosts visibility for crisis centers and providers. For more information about AAS accreditation please visit https://suicidology.org/ or call (202) 237-2280. 

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