By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The locations for three new crisis care centers meant to help those undergoing immediate mental health emergencies will be announced in October.
Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear told the Senate General Fund committee during an informal meeting on Tuesday that she hopes the centers can open by May of next year. The centers are meant to lessen the amount of mentally ill people being admitted to emergency rooms and jails and reduce the recidivism rate for those with mental illness.
The department works with 19 mental health providers throughout the state and the new emergency care centers will be housed with three of those entities, Beshear said. They will be open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year with clinical and supportive care services for anyone who needs it.
“In this work, it is to respond to the unique needs of our state and our communities, and we want this work to become the framework for a statewide system of crisis care,” Beshear said.
The centers include both walk-in access for individuals and the ability for emergency departments and law enforcement agencies to transfer people to the center for crisis care, including short-term admission, medication management and case management.
Services will also include discharge planning and connections to ongoing behavioral health care services for longer-term care if needed.
The facilities are a result of an $18 million appropriation in the 2021 General Fund budget approved earlier this year by the state Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey. Mental health was one of the Legislature’s top priorities for the 2020 regular session before it was cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Along with the creation of the new crisis care centers, Beshear said a collaborative effort between community stakeholders like jails, law enforcement and hospitals is what will make these centers more effective and will ensure more people get the proper help they need in Alabama
Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, said during Tuesday’s meeting that he was excited for the centers to be operational and thinks the individualistic care practices will help many people in the state.
“I just know in the long term, it will make a big difference in our state but more importantly in a lot of people’s lives,” Chambliss said.