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Mental health crisis response center could soon receive funding


The St. Joseph County Council will decide Tuesday whether to approve funding for a mental health crisis response center.

Right now, people experiencing a mental health episode in St. Joseph County don’t have many options other than to call 911. 


Jeff Walker, a Faith in Indiana leader and executive director of the Beacon Resource Center, said that means many people in the midst of a mental health crisis end up in the county jail.


“It’s a de-facto treatment center because we don’t have a set-aside space – a mental health facility or a drug treatment facility – to take these individuals,” Walker said. 


“Fortunately, once they do get in jail, Oaklawn is kind of our main provider,” he added. “So they’re doing good work inside the facility. But you have to go to jail to get access to that facility.” 


Local Faith in Indiana leaders, as well as County Sheriff Bill Redman, County Health Officer Dr. Bob Einterz and other mental health advocates, have pushed for a 24-hour, walk-in crisis response center that can connect people to medication, counseling and other psychiatric services. It will also have some capacity for longer stays of approximately 2-5 days.


At its meeting Tuesday, the County Council will consider whether to approve roughly $2.7 million in American Rescue Plan funding – about $1.3 million to renovate a space at Memorial Hospital’s Epworth Center, and about $1.4 million to fund the center’s operations for a year.


Faith in Indiana will hold a vigil at the County-City Building ahead of the meeting at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and can be viewed on Zoom.


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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Gemma DiCarlo came to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.