Avel eCare Crisis Care provides first responders with on-demand access to behavioral health professionals for support during calls involving mental health crises.

Sioux Falls, SD – April 29, 2024 – Avel eCare, the nation’s leading provider of clinician-to-clinician telemedicine services announced that its innovative “Crisis Care” program is now available as a resource to law enforcement agencies in central North Dakota. Minot, Bismarck, Rugby, and Harvey join the growing list of communities in the state with access to Avel eCare Crisis Care, a co-responder model that supports law enforcement with 24/7 access to behavioral health professionals in the field.

Participating police departments and sheriff’s offices are equipped with telemedicine tablets that can be used to connect on-demand with behavioral health professionals who provide real-time assessments to determine whether an individual in crisis can stay in place instead of being sent to overburdened emergency rooms or even to jail.

“In North Dakota, 108,000 adults have a mental health condition–that’s more than two times the population of Minot. Crisis Care will help to ensure our friends and neighbors receive the appropriate level of care necessary while providing police and sheriff’s officers with the tools they need to serve their local communities,” said North Dakota Rep. Jon O. Nelson, District 14.

“80% of the individuals Avel eCare has assisted have been able to stay home and follow up with resources locally.  Otherwise, they may have been arrested or transported by ambulance to emergency departments, which is a difficult, stressful, and often lengthy process for everyone involved. Many people wait days or even weeks for an opening in a psychiatric treatment center,” said Brian Erickson, vice president and general manager of behavioral health at Avel eCare.

“if you or a loved one is experiencing a behavioral health crisis or need please call 988 for assistance, support, or connection to mobile crisis services,” said Pamela Sagness, HHS Behavioral Health Executive Director.  “This partnership expands regional behavioral health crisis services and is another step in advancing North Dakota’s behavioral health system.”

Crisis Care began as a pilot program in South Dakota in 2020 and has now expanded to North Dakota as well thanks to a partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services and funding provided by the North Dakota legislature. It is now available in parts of Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Research shows the collaborative approach helps avoid unnecessary involuntary committals while preserving healthcare and criminal justice system resources.

The American Psychological Association estimates that at least 20% of police calls for service involve a mental health or substance use crisis, and for many departments, that demand is growing.