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Governor announces mental health crisis center coming to Birmingham

The new Birmingham center will provide a place for police and first responders to take those who may be experiencing crisis.

A fourth mental health crisis center is to open in Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday. The $6 million center is to be located at the Jefferson, Blount, St. Clair (JBS) Mental Health Authority in Birmingham.

The new center joins the first three, located at AltaPointe Health in Mobile, Wellstone in Huntsville, and the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority in Montgomery, which opened in May with an $18 million appropriation in the state’s 2021 General Fund budget. 

Ivey and the state Legislature in 2020 put a focus on the state’s mental healthcare system, agreeing to invest millions to create the centers to fill a gap in Alabama’s treatment options for those suffering a mental health crisis. 

“The Ivey Administration is fully committed to addressing the very real challenges in the area of mental health care. This is critical, and should not be overlooked, which is why it remains of high importance in my agenda,” Ivey said in a statement. “I am proud to award the JBS Mental Health Authority this fourth crisis center in Birmingham. These centers will go a long way in improving mental health care in Alabama.”

Birmingham’s crisis center will serve those with mental illness and substance use disorders. All four crisis centers work to reduce the number of people suffering from mental health crises who are hospitalized or jailed, allowing police and first responders a place to take those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis and have trained staff offer short-term admission, medication management and case management. 

“Crisis Centers are a crucial element of an integrated system of care. This award demonstrates the commitment of the local community to form and strengthen partnerships,” Commissioner Kimberly Boswell of the Alabama Department of Mental Health said in a statement. “The addition of the fourth Crisis Center, in one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the state, brings vital and necessary crisis services in an expanded and more accessible form.”

Lynn Beshear, the former commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, said in October 2020 at the announcement of the first three centers that the centers marks a “culture change” in Alabama for treatment of individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders.

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Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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