Behavioral Health Clinical Learning Collaborative

The goal of the Behavioral Health Clinical Learning Collaborative is to develop a well-integrated service system that provides the most suitable care for patients experiencing a psychiatric emergency and presenting at the ED.


Contact Information

Nancy Fennell

Director, Behavioral Health Clinical Learning Collaborative

(603) 415 – 4276

The situation of patients waiting for extended periods of time in New Hampshire hospital emergency departments for access to mental health treatment is a symptom of a larger systemic problem, in which we simply do not have adequate resources to care for people who are in an acute psychiatric crisis.

The Foundation for Healthy Communities’ Behavioral Health Clinical Learning Collaborative is a statewide, essential initiative that engages and supports clinicians and staff from hospital emergency departments (EDs), community mental health centers (CMHCs) and other stakeholders to better engage and treat patients in a mental health crisis in the ED setting while they await referral to the most appropriate level of care.


Our collective goals are to:

  • •Start treatment in the emergency department
  • •Examine Mobile Crisis/Crisis Care Alternatives to redirect patients from the ED when possible
  • •Strengthen partnerships between hospitals and community mental health centers to better serve patients who frequent the ED
  • •Evaluate and share best practices for mental health assessments and interventions in ED crisis situations
  • •Provide education and share programming on stigma reduction (providers, staff, community partners)

Strategies created thus far in the Collaborative demonstrate our ability to coordinate and mobilize our partners in creating and connecting with appropriate resources. Examples include: a Suicide Screening & Intervention Toolkit for New Hampshire Emergency Departments using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale to help ED staff members develop the confidence and know-how to screen quickly for suicidality and access clinical decision support tools to help determine next steps in care; a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) Pilot Project where two hospital/community mental health center teams participated in an accelerated program to study and analyze TIC principles and design initiatives to improve safety and treatment outcomes within their ED settings; a Behavioral Health Inpatient Admissions Guide to assist ED and CMHC staff in understanding the admissions process to all voluntary and designated receiving facilities; Patient engagement initiatives including discussions with presenters from NAMI NH’s In Our Own Voice program who shared their experiences and perspectives as patients boarding in EDs and provided recommendations for care.  Collaborative members have connected with and receive ongoing updates from statewide Peer Support Agencies, Crisis Respite Centers and Step-Up/Step-Down programs. 


The Collaborative brings together clinical peers and other stakeholders to share evidence-based initiatives, training resources, implementation support, practical tips and networking opportunities with New Hampshire’s EDs and CMHCs so that they can better support patients and their families experiencing a mental health crisis.


Download the Behavioral Health Clinical Learning Collaborative fact sheet