By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kim Boswell said her agency is “excited” to be moving forward with brining on two new crisis centers offering mental health care regionally.
The new crisis centers will be located in Tuscaloosa and Dothan. The state already has crisis centers in the Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham areas.
“That will bring us to six crisis centers statewide,” Boswell said on Alabama Public Television’s Capitol Journal. “We are just really excited and thankful to the governor for her support – that was part of her budget – and of course the Legislature supported that proposal as well.”
Next year’s state General Fund budget allocates a record $193.1 million to the Alabama Department of Mental Health, about $65 million more than in fiscal 2020 when lawmakers said the state had “failed” in recent years to address mental health care needs.
That allocation includes $36 million for the crisis centers that have been in development since 2020.
“We are really trying to keep people who are having a mental health issue out of jails and out of emergency departments, where they often get boarded. One of the most effective ways to do that is to have services available when they are in crisis,” Boswell said.
“It could be as simple as they need a good quality screening and assessment. Oftentimes, we don’t know if someone is picked up by law enforcement or winds up in the ER if what they are seeing is a mental health issuer a substance use issue. One of the most effective steps in that process is to get a good screening so that you know actually what you need to address.”
The department’s budget also includes $2.6 million for new 16-bed substance abuse residential programs.