[MONTGOMERY, AL] On October 28, WellStone was officially selected as one of the three locations in Alabama to establish Alabama’s first 24/7 crisis diversion center in Huntsville. Development is scheduled to start at the beginning of next year.
Governor Ivey made the announcement on Wednesday morning at a press conference in Montgomery. During the press conference, Governor Ivey said, “Expanding access to crisis centers will provide a range of tools to divert individuals from emergency departments and jails, to maximize the limited behavioral health workforce and improve the quality of life for Alabama families and communities.”
Alabama House Majority Leader Ledbetter was directly assigned by Governor Ivey to improving the mental health crisis in Alabama. He commented, “Today marks the day of a new beginning. By working together, today’s announcement it will not only change Alabamian lives, it will help save lives.”
Alabama’s Commissioner of Mental Health Lynn Beshear also made a statement elaborating on the support and details of the facilities. Beshear announced, “These facilities will be staffed with mental and physical health professionals. This level of care is recovery-based. It entails short-term stays to provide treatment, support and connection to care in the community.” She continued, “The centers will make a life-saving difference to those receiving care, their families and ultimately our state and communities.”
WellStone CEO Jeremy Blair says, “We are ecstatic to begin the development of a resource that has long been needed in our community. We are not only expanding our services; we are amplifying our ability to help the individuals who need it most.” He continues, ”this first of its kind model in our state will be an invaluable resource to the entire North Alabama region providing a place for those in crisis to go, no matter what day of the week or time of day. This diversion center will also be an added resource to area law enforcement agencies who may encounter individuals experiencing a mental health crisis while on duty.”
The additional recipients include AltaPointe Health in Mobile, Montgomery Area of Mental Health Authority. Commissioner Beshear expounded the selection process, saying that the independent review panel was comprised of experts in crisis care, mental illness and substance use. She included that the panel was “confident that the pilot proposals maximized a collaborative approach to establish a crisis continuum within their regions, as well as providing value which is the intersection of cost and quality.”
WellStone is especially grateful to North Alabama legislative leaders who led the discussion and state funding efforts for crisis diversion centers in the last legislative session. Speaker McCutcheon, Leader Ledbetter, Minority Leader Daniels, Senator Gudger, Representative Reynolds and many others were instrumental in leading the efforts to begin to better address our state’s mental health resource challenges. WellStone also received broad support from Mayor Battle, Huntsville City Council, Mayor Finley, Chairman Strong and other North Alabama community leaders such as Mack Yates.
Concerning plans of action, the Commissioner explained that WellStone will open a temporary site until the new facility is built using an additional $2.1 funding received from local entities. WellStone’s new facility will have 39 beds, including 15 for temporary observation and 24 for extended observation. WellStone will take walk-ins and referrals from law enforcement, first responders and Emergency Departments, with a dedicated law enforcement entrance. The center will create up to 80 full-time and part-time jobs.
WellStone will release updates concerning architectural development, treatment services and job opportunities as advancement continues throughout 2021.
About Wellstone Inc.: WellStone Inc. is a non-profit community organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services supporting the integrated health of the whole person. WellStone operates 12 facilities throughout North Alabama and Cullman. WellStone is certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health. WellStone offers programs for children, adolescents, adults, substance abuse, school-based outreach, community services and more. For more information, visit www.wellstone.com. Additional media inquiries can be directed to the Communications Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (256) 705-6301.