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Ivey announces Birmingham area crisis center — ‘will go a long way in improving mental health care in Alabama’

Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL) on Monday announced that the Jefferson, Blount, St. Clair (JBS) Mental Health Authority in Birmingham will be home to the state’s fourth crisis center.

The addition to the Alabama Crisis System of Care will join AltaPointe Health in Mobile, WellStone in Huntsville and the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority in Montgomery in providing crucial mental health services to the citizenry.

The state’s first three crisis centers were awarded funding in October 2020 and have been operational since May 2021. Crisis centers were established to serve individuals suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

Ivey and commissioner Kimberly Boswell of the Alabama Department of Mental Health announced the awardee of a fourth crisis center, a vital addition to the Alabama Crisis System of Care. The center will serve individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders, expanding access to care more broadly than ever before.

The governor vowed to continue her efforts in confronting the issue of mental health in the Yellowhammer State.

“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,” said Ivey. “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.”

Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kimberly Boswell praised the partnership with local leaders in working to meet the needs of Alabamians.

“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,” said Boswell. “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.”

Crisis centers are a designated place for community members, law enforcement and first responders to take an individual who is in a mental health crisis. Crisis centers offer both walk-in access and the capacity for first responders and law enforcement to transfer individuals to the center for crisis care for a warm hand-off to crisis center staff, short-term admission, medication management and case management.

Services also include critical crisis intervention and stabilization services, discharge planning, and connections to ongoing behavioral health care services, if needed.

Ivey, alongside House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) prioritized establishing a health crisis continuum of care in the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions. The initial three crisis centers received a total of $18 million in funding appropriated from the fiscal year 2021 general fund budget, with funding carried over into fiscal year 2022.

The fourth crisis center is funded through a new budget appropriation of $6 million approved by the legislature.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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