A National Overview of the Mobile Response Stabilization Services (MRSS)

Innovative Conversations Session 12 – Recorded September 2020

Patrick Kanary, founding director of the Center for Innovative Practices (CIP) and host of the CIP’s Innovative Conversations series, takes a national look at the Mobile Response Stabilization Services (MRSS) initiative and how its working in Connecticut, Maryland, and Nevada via the experiences and perspectives, respectively, of Jeffrey Vanderploeg, Elizabeth Manley, and Christopher Morano.

Over the course of this year, with quarantines and distancing brought about from the Covid-19 pandemic, Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) have come to the forefront in helping connect clinicians and caregivers with clients and their families, especially in times of acute need.

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Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) is designed for  families with youth and young adults (up to age 22) who are experiencing difficulties or distress. These individuals can receive assistance within 60 minutes after contacting MRSS and they may also receive up to 45 days of intensive, in-home services and linkage to on-going supports.

View Mobile MRSS NTTAC Webinar PowerPoint PDFLearn More about MRSS | View MRSS Video Overview | View SAMHSA MRSS Guidelines PDF | Download MRSS Best Practices Summary hereDownload MRSS Practice Standards v2 (June 2020) here

Listen to audio of A National Overview of the Mobile Response Stabilization Services (MRSS)


Patrick Kanary, founding director of the Center for Innovative Practices (CIP) and host of the CIP’s Innovative Conversations series, takes a national look at the MRSS model and how its working in Connecticut, Maryland, and Nevada via the experiences and perspectives, respectively, of Jeffrey Vanderploeg, Elizabeth Manley, and Christopher Morano. (See biographies of each below.)

Services provided by the MRSS team may include: safety assessments, de-escalation, peer support, and skill building, among others. Access to MRSS is available 24 hours per day, seven day a week. You make the call, together we respond. MRSS services are for any family defined crisis. A few examples of common issues that MRSS staff can help with include: escalating emotional or behavioral issues; mental health issues; addiction and substance abuse; physical and emotional trauma; school truancy; running away from home;  parent/child or caregiver/child conflict; suicidal ideation.
MRSS works this way: The first step is your call. You will talk with a trained staff person about what’s happening, and they will take your contact information. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An MRSS staff person will reach out and arrange to meet. Within a short time, an MRSS staff person will be in touch with you by phone to make arrangements for responding to where you are. The MRSS Staff will arrive within 60 minutes or when convenient for your family.

Upon arrival, the MRSS therapist will work with you and your family to help resolve the situation that led to the call. This may include a safety assessment and de-escalation strategies using family systems interventions. The therapist will stay as long as needed until everyone feels calm.

View Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS) Recommendations for Model Enhancement PDF

Once the situation is calm, the therapist will offer up to 45 days of intensive support which could include home-based psychotherapy, skill building, peer support and referral to on-going community services and resources to help keep your family on the path to success.

In a survey,  93% of families agreed that they would recommend MRSS to others and 93% of families said that MRSS taught them new skills that will help them be successful in the future. And 98% of families said that they met the goals they identified at the beginning of their involvement with MRSS.

As an example of how MRSS is working in areas where it’s been in existence for a number of years, in Nevada the Mobile Crisis Response Team strives to help Nevada children and adolescents live happily and safely in their homes and communities. Objectives include:
• Supporting and maintaining youth in their homes and community environments
• Promoting and supporting safe behavior in youth in their homes and communities
• Reducing admission to Emergency Departments due to a behavioral health crisis
• Facilitating short-term in-patient psychiatric hospitalization when needed
• Assisting youth and families in accessing and linking to on-going support and services

View MRSS Best Practices for Youth and Families PDF | View MRSS Over PowerPoint | View What Is New Jersey’s Mobile Response and Stabilization Services’ Intervention? PDF

Goals For The Future include:
◦ Access to Behavioral Health System
◦ Access to high level for those who need them
◦ Easier access to treatment for children with MH & SU disorders
◦ Decreased inpatient and residential recidivism
◦ Providing care in less restrictive environment
◦ Fewer children in institutional care, and more in community based services
◦ Reduction in shelter and group home care
◦ Reduction in detention center usage
◦ Reduction in the incarceration of juveniles
◦ Reduced recidivism

The results have included fewer Children and Youth entering MH & SA services prior to entering Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice.

Pictured right: Tip Sheet: Intervening with Someone in Crisis Download here.


Elizabeth Manley is a Clinical Instructor for Health and Behavioral Health Policy at the Institute for Innovation and Implementation. In this capacity, Ms. Manley provides technical assistance to states and communities specific to children’s behavioral health innovations with a specific focus on policy, financing and development of service array within a of systems of care. Ms. Manley is the former Assistant Commissioner for NJ’s Children’s System of Care. In this capacity, Ms. Manley led transformation and implementation of system innovations including integrating individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities, substance use and integration of physical health into the Children’s System of Care. She had direct oversight of the statewide child behavioral health, substance use and development/intellectual disabilities systems. This includes a wide range of community-based services and residential interventions..

Learn More about the University of Maryland’s Institute for Innovation and Implementation Here


Christopher Morano, Ph.D. has been a licensed psychologist for nearly 30 years. and served as past Director of Emergency Mobile Mental Health Services for Milwaukee County Children and Families. Along with experience both performing the service and managing those who do, Dr. Morano has trained locally and nationally in community crisis intervention. He has helped set up teams across the country and served as a consultant from Oakland, CA to Buffalo, NY. At present Dr. Morano is the consultant for child crisis services for the state of Nevada. He also serves on the faculty of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, doing national training in crisis intervention. Dedicated to the delivery of mental health services in the community, Dr. Morano’s work is committed to helping systems develop successful community solutions utilizing a continuum of care, with formal and informal support, emphasizing less intensive, safe and naturally occurring strategies. He also recently published a book on alternative ways of thinking about, and helping children, called Paleo Parenting: The Many Myths of Childhood Mental Illness. His recent presentation, entitled “Risk Assessment – Self-Harm​ and Risk Response and Planning​,” can be viewed here. Download PDF of Presentation


Jeffrey Vanderploeg, Ph.D. is President and Chief Executive Officer of both the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut and its parent organization the Children’s Fund of Connecticut. He joined CHDI in 2009 and was appointed President and CEO of CHDI on October 1, 2017 and President and CEO of the Children’s Fund on October 1, 2018. He received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Bowling Green State University, completed Predoctoral and Postdoctoral training at Yale University School of Medicine, and was a research faculty member at Yale before joining CHDI in 2009. He initially began as a Program Associate before being promoted to Associate Director of Mental Health in 2011, and Vice President for Mental Health Initiatives in 2014. During his career at CHDI, he played a central role in developing effective policies, systems, and practices for the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions among children and adolescents and their families. He was the lead author of the Connecticut Children’s Behavioral Health Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for addressing the behavioral health needs of youth, which has remained a significant guiding framework for state-wide reform. He was also the co-developer of the Connecticut School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) model and was instrumental in creating a quality improvement system for the state’s mobile crisis system.

Learn More about Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut Here


Richard Shepler, PhD., Director of the Center for Innovative Practices at Case Western Reserve University, is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with Supervising Counselor designation and is the external project lead for the Ohio Department of Mental Health’s Intensive Home-Based Treatment initiative, for which he facilitated a team of statewide experts in the development of the state’s first Intensive Home-Based Treatment rule.

Dr. Shepler is also the co-developer of the Integrated Co-Occurring Treatment (ICT) model, one of the first treatment models designed specifically for youth with the co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental illness. The ICT program has received the SAMHSA’s Science and Service award and the NIATx iAward while also being included in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) “Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice Network”.

Learn More about Rick Shepler’s Work


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: ReilisnecyOhio.org


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