The message of patient-centered care: I’m with you.

Five Lanes, One Road to Recovery
David W. Covington

Dear Community of Hope,
I’m with you. That’s the message of patient-centered care, explicitly shifting the power of decision-making to the individual in pain. In his featured presentation to the 988 Crisis Jam learning community, Dr. Don Berwick questioned the extent to which the loss of control and agency in crisis contributes to suffering.

In the RoundTable, Tonja Myles responded, “I’m feeling sad, mad and excited because I’ve been the person behind those doors and felt like I became a behavioral health hostage. I had no control over anything; my voice did not matter. I believe we will do a better job, we will treat people with dignity and respect, and we can make a difference.”

These are the reasons RI innovated the healing spaces of the “living room” model twenty years ago. We exclude the use of Plexiglas or other physical barriers to engagement and include significant numbers of Certified Peer Specialists in our teams. It’s our daily mission to observe and respect the inherent worth of the individual experiencing the emergency.

At RI and Behavioral Health Link, we believe in this vision, where everyone in crisis experiences care as caring, experiences help that promotes hope, and such care and help is delivered when and where they need it. It’s the mission of Five Lanes Crisis Partners to eliminate unnecessary police and hospital engagement. The foundation of excellence rooted in our expertise and experience delivering on the promise of 988 makes our family of companies the best in call/text/chat hub, mobile teams, receiving facilities, software platforms, and consulting and training to make it happen.

We must continuously grow and strengthen our teams if we’re going to have an impact and we’re thrilled to add industry leaders Deepa Avula and Dr. John Draper to the effort. We’re also very excited to join the collective impact of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute and Ad Council Anti Stigma Grand Challenge. And, I’m really going to miss working closely with Christopher Bartz who is leaving RI after 16 years for a C-suite role in another company.

David W. Covington, LPC, MBA
CEO & President, RI International

100th Jam Session

100th Episode Crisis Jam with Dr. Don Berwick!

What do you think? What do you need? These are the questions of patient-centered care. The 988 Crisis Jam Learning Community was thrilled to welcome Dr. Don Berwick, whose work has catalyzed a national movement to improve healthcare quality and safety. The shift to patient control will revolutionize healthcare, and crisis services in particular. Click Here to View the Episode

John and the Vibrant team stood up the Lifeline in 2005 and 988 earlier this summer. His clinical leadership and innovation has transformed practice around the world, with the Suicide Risk Assessment Standards, Helping Callers at Imminent Risk and the vital inclusion of lived expertise. John is coming full circle joining BHL as President, Research and Development having started his career leading a mobile crisis team in NYC in the 1990s. Watch the video here.

SAMHSA launched the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee in 2017 after the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. Deepa Avula and the SAMHSA team coordinated the report to Congress which called for national standards for crisis care, which were published in early 2020. Deepa’s leadership continued to the state mental health commissioner role in North Carolina, and she brings extraordinary value as Deputy CEO for BHL, working closely with CEO & President Michael Claeys. See BHL’s Technology Vision.

Christopher Bartz Leaves RI International

Homeless and struggling with depression and substance use challenges, Christopher didn’t believe in recovery but a housing program offered another chance. He took our Peer Employment Training and joined the Company as a Certified Peer Specialist in 2006. Moving up through the ranks Christopher became the administrator for the programs and has made an indelible mark on our culture and mission. After 16 years, Christopher is leaving for a C-Suite role in another company and we will miss his recovery focus and direct impact every day! Watch his story.

Moving America’s Soul – Episode 6

In episode 6, we travelled to Boston to spend time with the author of This is How it Feels, Craig Miller. Craig recollects driving in the car and hearing his rock band’s song on the radio for the first time. But, he also writes about the sexual assaults and intense emotional challenges of growing up. When suicidal he was often asked why he wanted to die. He learned the better question was why to live. Watch Episode 6 here!

Estimate Potential Crisis Care System Cost

RI partnered with McKinsey Health Institute to develop an online tool that simulates potential healthcare cost scenarios, and demonstrates the benefits of adopting the Crisis Now model. For more information, visit the website at or speak with our consulting and training team.

Anti Stigma Grand Challenge

In October, Dr. John Draper, Tonja Myles and I joined nearly 100 organizations convened by the Huntsman Mental Health Institute and Ad Council in Snowbird, Utah for the Anti Stigma Grand Challenge. It’s an audacious ten year plan to bring collective impact to ending the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use, and we were so moved by the passion and heart brought by Christena Huntsman Durham and David Huntsman. Learn more here.

BHL’s Statewide Crisis Software Platform

In 2006, I led the Behavioral Health Link team that designed the first statewide crisis software system that would set the “care traffic control” standard, with GPS-enabled mobile crisis dispatch, electronic bed inventory, intensive service tracking and more. It was built on a Windows.NET app with SQL backend and installed on individual computers.

In 2021, Henry Wengier and team started afresh to catapult Virginia forward to the SAAS Enterprise Product which would shape Crisis Now systems in the future. Hosted in a Microsoft Azure data center, with a back end SQL database and a front end Angular and middle layer API .NET using C sharp, they exponentially enhanced the security coding with a browser based application. But, what’s more, Dr. Chuck Browning and Dr. John Draper are driving a clinical model aligning with 988 and the SAMHSA National Guidelines for BH Crisis Care. Contact Deepa Avula to learn more.

Vic Armstrong | Strong Talk

Earlier this year, RI hired its first Chief Diversity Officer. Vic Armstrong had served on the RI Board of Directors prior to becoming the North Carolina state mental health commissioner. He went on to become the NC DHHS’s first Chief Health Equity Officer. Vic joined the 100th episode of Crisis Jam to channel A few minutes with Andy Rooney… Only Vic tackled race and equity in crisis care, “I challenge us not to apply the lens of equity but the voice of equity.” More to come in the Strong Talk podcast by year’s end. Click Here to View the Episode.

2021 Annual Report | Serving People with Care

We are pleased to share a copy of our 2021 Annual Report with you. During the past year as the country slowly emerges from the challenges we faced with the Covid pandemic and the impacts on our lives, we have found new pathways of care with the announcement of 988 and the promise it brings to all those who are in deep emotional pain. Review RI 2021 Annual Report.

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To find out more information on clinical innovations or the array of services we offer, email us at & DavidWCovington

RI International 30 Years

RI International is a d/b/a for Recovery Innovations, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
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