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Why isn’t B’ham getting mental health and substance abuse crisis centers

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 12:16 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Governor Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that three crisis centers for mental illness and substance use disorders would open around the state as part of an $18 million initiative to expand mental health treatment for Alabamians.

The providers and locations of the new crisis centers are AltaPointe Health in Mobile, the Mental Health Authority in Montgomery and Wellstone Behavioral Health in Huntsville.

Ivey said the center would improve the quality of life for Alabamians but Birmingham, the largest, most populated city in the state was not chosen and WBRC wanted to know, why.

The governor’s office said the process to choose a location was highly competitive based on the companies that submitted proposals.

We’ve requested more information from the state department of mental health about which companies and how many of them applied for the program.

We will update this article when we hear back.

Cauthen said Birmingham desperately needs a crisis center

“Clients that need a bed immediately, they stay full a lot of times. We do have to outsource to other little cities throughout the Alabama area because our needs here are truly great for a center like this,” said Cauthen.

Cauthen said it would also keep people out of jail, where they often don’t get the treatment they need, and emergency rooms where immediate help is not usually available.

She says the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the problem.

And for crisis situations, according to Cauthen, resources in Birmingham are limited.

“We do have a crisis center here in Birmingham that people can call and they will direct you to someone that may be able to help you with your crisis,” she explained.

That service, The Crisis Center of Central Alabama is only over the phone support, said Cauthen, and there’s no place to go, in Birmingham, that can take you immediately.

Ivey’s camp said she hopes to see continued progress in providing mental health care across Alabama.

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