Behavioral Health Urgent Care: A Vision for Massachusetts and Opportunities to Improve Access

Behavioral health urgent care services are a critical component of the broader behavioral health care delivery system. Developing and sustaining a robust set of behavioral health urgent care services across community-based settings will provide adults with more options for timely access to care and offer alternatives to emergency departments for treatment. This brief proposes a vision and framework for behavioral health urgent care and outlines a series of policy and programmatic recommendations to address workforce, clinical, payment, and administrative barriers to implementing behavioral health urgent care.  Addressing these barriers will advance access to and availability of behavioral health urgent care services for adults in Massachusetts.

This brief complements the Foundation’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care grant program, through which the Foundation is supporting Emergency Services Programs (ESPs) to bolster their capacity to deliver behavioral health urgent care services in Massachusetts. The work of the ESP grant partners and insights from other key stakeholders informed the proposed vision and key elements of the behavioral health urgent care framework as well as the recommendations outlined in this brief.