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Mental health crisis center opens in Birmingham

Craig Crisis Care Center, a mental health facility, opened its doors with state and local officials in the ceremony.

Gov. Kay Ivey was joined by Alabama Department of Mental Health, JBS Mental Health, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, and others Tuesday for an in-depth look, ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for the Birmingham facility.

The Craig Crisis Care Center will serve as many as 20 counties to aid those with mental health crisis or issues related to substance abuse. The center is one of six others throughout the state that compose the state’s Crisis System of Care.

“Strengthening Alabama’s mental healthcare access has been a top priority for my administration from the beginning, and I’m proud to celebrate the opening of Alabama’s fourth Crisis Center here in Birmingham.,” Ivey said. “Throughout every major region in Alabama, we are working diligently to improve our mental health landscape to ensure we create positive change in the lives of Alabamians who need it most.”

The state set aside $18 million in 2020 to form crisis centers in Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery. In 2021, $6 million was allocated for a center in Birmingham. Last year, funding was announced for centers in Dothan and Tuscaloosa.

“We have a tremendous need for 24/7, 365 mental health care in Jefferson County,” said Kimberly Boswell, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. “Bringing the Craig Crisis Care Center to fruition is the result of a connected, community-driven effort that will save lives by offering some place to go for those in a mental health or substance use crisis.”

Within the state, historically, there haven’t been many options for those facing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. Because of this, jails and hospital emergency rooms have been overtaken by people with these issues.

The Craig Crisis Center will be a place for communities, law enforcement, first responders and families to give individuals in need fast service in an “appropriate environment.”

The new facility will have 32 temporary observation beds with a 23-hour maximum length of stay. There will be 16 extended observation beds that accommodate persons for one to five days. When the patient is stabilized at the facility, the center works with community partners and hospitals to arrange after-care services.

The Craig Crisis center gets its name from Dr. Richard Craig, an executive director of JBS Mental Authority for 23 years. Craig was honored with the NAMI Alabama Lifetime Achievement Award and the Annual Alabama Institute for Recovery H.O.P.E Award.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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