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How to Implement Crisis Response Training Effectively

The need for effective crisis response training, especially for behavioral health crises, is growing.

Compared to other high-income countries, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of mental health and substance use issues. While Americans are more likely than people in many other countries to seek help for these issues, they are also more likely to be unable to access care due to high costs or lack of mental health practitioners in their area.

The incidence of mental and behavioral disorders, combined with lack of access to treatment, often leads to an increase in crisis situations. For human services organizations, it will be imperative to offer comprehensive crisis services moving forward. By offering crisis response training to your staff, you can make sure they have the knowledge to keep your clients and themselves safe in the event of an emergency. To deliver this training as effectively as possible, consider investing in crisis response training and a learning management platform.

What you need from crisis response training

In 2022, Relias surveyed 2,952 human services professionals on topics related to crisis prevention and intervention. A majority of respondents reported that the ability to prevent or respond to a crisis situation was a part of their job. The data collected via this survey highlighted the need for increased crisis response training among behavioral health and IDD organizations.

Some interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 42% of respondents felt “moderately” confident addressing suicidal thoughts.
  • 40% of respondents want more practice of their crisis prevention and response skills.
  • 41% of respondents wanted more continuing education opportunities to improve their confidence in their crisis response skills.

It’s clear that there’s room for improved crisis response training. But how can your organization meet these different needs?

How to use a learning management platform to provide crisis response training

Using a learning management platform lets you more effectively address the learning needs of your staff. For crisis response training in particular there are several advantages to using this type of learning platform. Through the functionalities offered by a learning management platform, you can provide not only the training your staff members need, but the training they’re asking for.

Increase frequency of training

One of the biggest advantages afforded by a learning management platform is flexibility. At its core, a learning management platform is a cloud-based training software that houses everything you need for training, from courses to completion tracking.

The cloud-based nature of the platform means that staff can login at any time, from anywhere, to complete their training. Using this functionality, you can work with your staff members to increase the frequency of their crisis response training.

Creating more frequent training for your staff allows you to help them retain critical crisis response information at a higher rate. Indeed, studies have shown that crisis response training is most effective when performed on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, most organizations only have the capacity to train their behavioral health and IDD staff in CPI once per year.

For these reasons, you can take advantage of the flexibility of a learning management platform to increase the frequency of your crisis response training.

Offer blended learning modules

Another advantage that learning management platforms’ flexibility brings is the ability to offer both in-person and online crisis response training. Known as blended learning, this type of training gives your staff the best of both worlds. Due to the different ways that people learn, finding a way to cater to as many learning styles as possible will greatly benefit your training efforts.

With blended learning you can do just that. For skills like CPR that must be learned in person, you can perform live training while providing online quizzes to follow up on the training and help staff retain the knowledge gained. For the training that you feel confident can be performed remotely, you can offer online live or prerecorded sessions that staff can take when and where they learn best.

Using your learning management platform in this way ensures that you give staff members both the flexibility they need to complete training modules, while also providing them with the necessary support if they have any questions. This unique blend of convenience and support has led behavioral health and IDD professionals to report that blended learning is one of the best ways to improve their confidence in their skills.

Use simulation courses to gain experience

In crisis situations, the consequences of making the wrong decision can be devastating. As such, human services professionals want to practice their crisis prevention skills. The question then becomes: How can your organization safely administer crisis response training?

Using a learning management platform lets you assign courses that teach learners how to respond to crisis situations in a completely safe and virtual environment. Known as simulation courses, these learning modules use video to guide learners through a particular crisis scenario. As the video plays, the learner will make decisions on how to respond. The responses provided will then affect the outcome of the simulation.

Due to their interactive nature, simulation courses are a great way to provide crisis response training. With these courses, your staff will learn what to say or how to act to mitigate a crisis. And, perhaps more importantly, what not to say or do while helping a client experiencing a mental health crisis.

With this knowledge and experience, your staff will be better prepared to help the individuals you support.


Download the 2022 Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training Report — the first of its kind by Relias — to gain insight into the current state of training for crisis prevention and intervention among behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) professionals.

Download the Report →

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