Mental health is an issue impacting hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Many communities in Idaho are working to combat the issue with crisis centers. Over the past few years, three of the centers have opened across the state in Idaho Falls, Coeur d’ Alene, and Twin Falls. The fourth is set to open its doors in Boise next week.
“It's a missing level of care that we have in our system right now. We have out-patient services, counseling, therapy, that kind of stuff and then we have in-patient care, the most expensive. We're missing the middle tiers,” Ross Edmunds with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said.
The crisis centers help fill in that missing piece by providing temporary services to people having a mental health or substance abuse crisis.
“Just being removed from the situation that's causing that crisis for you in and of itself can reduce the stress that's causing that crisis,” Edmunds said.
Often, those suffering from a behavioral or mental health crisis don’t have any other place to go in the Treasure Valley and many times either end up in the emergency room or jail.
“It's an alternative place where they themselves can go, seek the help they need, in pretty short order and get back out to the community, back to their lives after getting access to something that can sort of reduce the current crisis,” Edmunds said.
“It takes away people from calling 911, from people walking into the ER. They can just come here directly and we can get them admitted and help them de-escalate,” Chris Christopher with Pathways said.
Currently, the three other crisis centers operating throughout the state have found them to be much more cost-effective.
“In Coeur d' Alene, they identify about $400,000 to $450,000 a quarter in emergency department and in-patient cost savings; that's just savings that occur in the emergency department and in-patient care,” Edmunds said.
The Treasure Valley crisis center will be located off Potomac Drive. The center will staff therapists, nurses, and case manager to help triage patients working through a crisis.
“We just want people to really come in here de-escalate as fast as possible and we can get them out to those appropriate services,” Christopher said.
The centers are open 24/7, but the longest a patient can stay during one visit is 23 hours and 59 minutes because the centers are not considered an in-patient service.
“The length of stay that we're seeing in the crisis centers it's usually somewhere between 12 hours, maybe up to 18 hours where they're just there, kind of decompress a little bit, slow down, talk to somebody to help them,” Edmunds said
The state will provide $1.5 million in annual operating costs, plus $200,000 in startup funds. After two years, local agencies must have a plan in place to take over 50 percent of the funding.