Regional Behavioral Health Network
- Need: Multiple organizations in rural east central Illinois needed a more efficient, centralized system for referring patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis to appropriate treatment services.
- Intervention: The Regional Behavioral Health Network was established with a 24-hour toll-free crisis line, providing immediate access to trained crisis clinicians.
- Results: Improved access to high quality behavioral healthcare for patients in rural east central Illinois.
The Regional Behavioral Health Network (RBHN) was formed
in 2002 by three organizations: LifeLinks, Human
Resources Center of Edgar and Clark Counties, and Sarah
Bush Lincoln Health Center. The objective of RBHN is to
provide 24-hour crisis coverage for behavioral health
These organizations were all struggling in some way to
meet the healthcare needs of people in a behavioral
health crisis. The health system was attempting to treat
psychiatric patients in the emergency department. When
these patients did not need inpatient services, staff
were unsure how to access outpatient services for them at
area mental health centers in a timely manner.
Conversely, if crisis clinicians from mental health
centers needed inpatient options for clients, there was
no direct way to connect them with the health system.
Staff from each organization formed a clinical committee.
Committee members reviewed data from all partnering
organizations in order to estimate volume and determine
documentation needs. This committee also made
recommendations for staffing, such as qualifications and
shifts as well as office locations.
A separate information technology committee investigated
wireless connectivity options for the use of cell phones,
data management, and billing. All partnering
organizations agreed which agency would employ the RBHN
network staff, which included a network director, an
office assistant, and clinical staff.
RBHN decided to form and staff a 24/7 toll-free crisis
line. All three organizations routed their crisis calls
to this line. When callers phone the toll-free number,
they are connected to a trained crisis clinician who can
offer immediate assistance with knowledge of area
behavioral health resources. The service is free to those
who choose to access it.
Today, RBHN is solely operated by LifeLinks and supported
by state and federal funding.
- Centralized hiring, training, and supervising of
- Immediate access to full-time crisis clinicians 24/7
via the toll-free crisis line
- 24/7 coverage in the emergency department
- 24/7 response for law enforcement agencies in three
- Crisis coverage for "walk-ins" at area mental health
- Educational presentations at local schools and other
agencies about suicide prevention, mental health
awareness, and available resources
- Partnership with the state of Illinois to respond to
calls to the Call4Calm line established in response to
the COVID-19 pandemic
- Partnership with the state of Illinois as a
Since the Regional Behavioral Health Network was founded,
several surrounding communities have requested that crisis
services be facilitated by the designated crisis team
within their counties. RBHN now provides crisis services
for rural Coles, Shelby, Moultrie, Edgar, and Douglas
counties in east central Illinois.
In addition to increased access, the RBHN has produced
the following results:
- Improved consistency and quality of crisis services
- Increased billable hours of service
- Mental health center and hospital staff no longer
interrupted by crisis calls
- Elimination of mandatory, on-call rotations at area
mental health centers
- Decreased wait time from hospital discharge to
outpatient follow-up for behavioral health services
- Securing enough staff to fill all positions for the
crisis line 24 hours a day, every day of the year, is a
- Budget cuts to mental health programs also continue
to present funding obstacles for the crisis line.
- Overall changes to the crisis system at the state
level can come at any time. Flexibility and creative
problem-solving are essential skills in creating a
- Ensuring staff safety in the field is also another
ongoing challenge. Staff safety should be a high priority
with constant monitoring and evaluation.
Take time to determine the number of staff needed to
operate a crisis line and then figure out how many should
be working at each shift. Even when a schedule has been
set, employees need to expect that some shifts will be
slow-paced while other shifts will be extremely busy.
Data collection is also important when determining
staffing patterns and needs. Knowing the overall volume
of calls, high call times, and specific area utilization
when servicing multiple counties can help with
determining staffing needs.
Angela Catalano, Director of Crisis Services
Regional Behavioral Health Network (RBHN)
Behavioral health workforce
Emergency department and urgent care services
Networking and collaboration
Suicide and suicide prevention
August 9, 2007
Date updated or reviewed
April 19, 2023
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Regional Behavioral Health Network [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 28 November 2023]
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