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St. Joseph County Council approves funding for mental health crisis response center

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Gemma DiCarlo/WVPE
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Funding is officially in place for a mental health crisis center in St. Joseph County. 

Mental health advocates have been pushing for a 24-hour, walk-in crisis response center for the last two years. And Tuesday night, the County Council approved $2.7 million to establish that center and fund it for one year.

 

The center will serve as an alternative to the emergency room or the county jail, where people experiencing a mental health episode are typically dropped off.

 

“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,” Jeff Walker, executive director of the Beacon Resource Center, said in a Monday interview with WVPE.

 

Staff will be able to stabilize people brought in by law enforcement or family members and connect them to medication, counseling, and other psychiatric services. The center will also have some capacity for longer stays of approximately 2 to 5 days.

 

About half of the funding will go to renovate a 4,000 square-foot space at Memorial Epworth Center. The other half will cover the center’s first year of operational costs.

 

According to the funding application, Oaklawn will staff the facility and Epworth will maintain it. The two will be responsible for finding long-term funding sources for the center, including state funding and reimbursements from third-party payors.

 

The council unanimously approved the funding to a round of applause.

 

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

 

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Gemma DiCarlo comes 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.