Johns Hopkins today announced the official pilot launch of the Behavioral Health Crisis Support Team, or BHCST, a mobile co-responder program that pairs clinicians with specially trained public safety personnel to respond to behavioral health-related crises. This new team will help the university fulfill its commitment to provide quality, equitable behavioral health crisis services on its campuses and in nearby communities.
In this first phase, the team of crisis clinicians have begun serving the Homewood campus this fall on a pilot basis and will gradually expand to a 24/7 service that covers the university's other Baltimore campuses. BHCST clinicians now work in designated shifts alongside specially trained public safety officers to conduct field assessments, triage and de-escalate behavioral health-related calls, and coordinate follow-up case management, among other services.
"Today's announcement is a celebration in the power of community to play an active role in redesigning what behavioral health support looks like and to leverage university resources to realize this collective vision," Branville Bard, vice president for public safety, and Kevin Shollenberger, vice provost for student health and well-being, wrote in a message to the Hopkins community today. "As we seek to enhance behavioral health crisis services at Johns Hopkins, it is our utmost hope that this new approach will meet the moment on our campus and nationwide in prioritizing behavioral health care access for all."
The three new clinical staff members bring experience in crisis counseling, de-escalation, and mobile crisis response to Hopkins. Within their first month, they underwent an extensive orientation, which included diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, introductions to JHU programs, and meetings with organizations representing JHU's neighbors. The clinicians also participated in collaborative training—alongside their public safety counterparts—which included a trauma-to-trust workshop that explored the ways in which trauma presents in their work and how to use those experiences to create mutual trust within the communities they serve.
Additionally, public safety officers took part this summer in trainings focused on LGBT+-informed language and pronouns, crisis de-escalation, countering implicit bias, and response adaptations for providing care to trauma victims, those who are unhoused, and those with disabilities. Training sessions have been led by Baltimore leaders who have framed their curriculums within the context of serving those living and studying here. Future workshops are currently being planned.
Bard and Shollenberger said they soon hoped to move to phase two of the pilot program, which will include adding new team members and introducing a dedicated phone number where individuals can reach the BHCST directly.
More information about the BHCST and its pilot program is available on the university's public safety and well-being websites.