A pilot project that could change the way Idahoans get treated during a mental health crisis has opened its doors in eastern Idaho. Officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Idaho Falls Monday morning.
The crisis center is meant to address the need for care for people during mental health emergencies. Mental health advocates and police say too often, those people end up in jail or hospital emergency rooms. The new center is modeled after one in Montana.
The head of behavioral health at Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, Ross Edmunds, says police in the state have been among the biggest supporters of the new type of care.
"They don’t have to lose sleep at night knowing they walked away and didn’t do anything," Edmunds says. "They also don’t have to take [those in crisis] to jail or the emergency room. They can take them to the crisis center and allow that person to get the help they need in a more humane way."
Idaho lawmakers approved more than $1.52 million for the project earlier this year. Initially, the Legislature considered opening three centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, before scaling back the project.
In June, the state selected Idaho Falls for the first facility. If it’s successful, lawmakers have said they'll look at adding similar centers in other regions.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Health and Welfare says law enforcement officers have participated in orientations at the center since Friday. Monday marked its first day of full operation.
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