Strategic Alliance for Improved Behavioral Health

Working to build a comprehensive behavioral healthcare system in Missoula County​.

About the Strategic Alliance for Improved Behavioral Health

Mental health and substance abuse crises that result in an emergency department visit are costly to the patient, to the health care providers, and to first responder services in the community. In 2019, the average Missoula County emergency department visit for behavioral health cost $2,049. In 2020, behavioral health accounted for almost one-third (31 percent) of all Missoula County emergency department visits. People often end up in the emergency department or in jail for behavioral health needs simply because there is nowhere else for them to go.  

Through funding from the Montana Healthcare Foundation, the Strategic Alliance for Improved Behavioral Health is working to address the unmet needs of people who do not have access to care.  The Strategic Alliance operates at a systems level to build more comprehensive and cost-effect pathways to address unmet behavioral health care needs of Missoula County residents.  These are Missoulians who experience barriers to accessing care, specifically people with limited economic means, youth, unsheltered individuals, and those with a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD). The Strategic Alliance uses qualitative and quantitative data to ensure it is addressing the most pressing unmet behavioral healthcare needs in the community.

Member Organizations

Founding Members: 

  • St. Patrick Hospital 
  • Community Medical Center  
  • Western Montana Mental Health Center  
  • Partnership Health Center  
  • All Nations Health Center  

Advisory Members

  • The Mayor’s office 
  • Missoula County Commission 
  • UM Curry Center Behavioral Health  
  • Missoula CIT 
  • NAMI of Missoula 
  • Representatives from additional City and County agencies and organizations.  


The Strategic Alliance focuses on systems-level strategies to:  

  • Improve access to appropriate behavioral health crisis care 
  • Decrease the number of people being incarcerated or admitted to the Emergency Department for behavioral health needs. 
  • Promote early intervention strategies to prevent behavioral health crises  
  • Advocate for funding to provide comprehensive services to better address patients’ needs  


Crisis Receiving Center 

With the opening of the crisis receiving center, Missoula will have all the components of the Crisis Now best practices model -someone to talk to, someone to respond, and a place to go. The 988 crisis line provides someone to talk to 24 hours a day. The Mobile Support Team provides licensed clinicians and EMTs to respond out in the community, and the Crisis Receiving Center offers people a place to go to receive trauma-informed care and connections to the community services they need. The center will be open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis including co-occurring substance use disorder. 

The Crisis Receiving Center is a collaboration between Providence St. Patrick Hospital, Western Montana Mental Health Center, and Missoula County. The Crisis Receiving Center will: 

  • Be staffed at all times (24/7/365) with a team capable of meeting the behavioral health needs of individuals experiencing non-medically emergent crisis in the community.  
  • Provide services to address mental health and substance use crisis issues such as social detox/ peer support, goal setting, safety planning, and crisis counseling.  
  • Make connections to ongoing care with detailed discharge plans, coordination with community agencies, family members, and a care transition plan. 


Data Analysis 

An important way of evaluating the success and challenges of the behavioral healthcare system is to track, analyze, and share data. A Montana company, JG Research and Evaluation, is working with the Strategic Alliance to analyze data from hospital emergency departments, 911, 988, the Mobile Support Team, CIT and other organizations that provide behavioral health crisis care. JG Research provides monthly data reports to the Strategic Alliance. 


Charting a Path Forward – A guide for building a comprehensive system of care in Missoula County 

The report, Missoula County Behavioral Health System: Charting a Path Forward, summarizes findings from nine community needs assessments, identifies common themes and proposes recommendations for the Strategic Alliance and the community’s consideration when prioritizing behavioral health system changes in the County. Missoula County Board of Commissioners and the Missoula City Council approved using this document as a guide when determining how to allocate resources for behavioral health services.  

Contact Information

To learn more about the Strategic Alliance or connect with our team, please email Keegan Flaherty, the project facilitator.

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