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Behavioral crisis center could help locals

Behavioral crisis center could help locals

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - There could soon be more help for locals with mental health and substance abuse issues. People are usually taken to local emergency rooms or county jails when their condition puts them or others at risk. The Department of Health and Welfare is asking to state for money to build three behavioral crisis centers in Idaho Falls, Coeur D-Alene and Boise.

They will serve communities 24/7. They will also build partnerships between law enforcement and local hospitals.

Randy Rodriquez is a program manager for the Department of Health and Welfare. He said the center will offer counseling and substance abuse assessments. There will be about 25 beds for people to stay in 24 hours or less. He said the center is meant to stabilize people.

"The goal of the center is for the person to get services so they can de-escalate the crisis so they can return home or we can hook them up with services in the community," he said.

One place they could be referred to is the East Idaho Regional Behavioral Health Center in Idaho Falls. The center allows people to stay for long periods of time and get treatment.

"We treat individuals that have an acute illness, if someone is depressed, anxious and their struggling," said clinical psychologist John Landers.

Landers said if the center opens, our region could see many benefits.

"The behavioral health center has worked really hard to have good partnerships with law enforcement and with the Department of Health and Welfare. This would be another way to partner with them and to enhance the services that are available in the community," Landers said.     

"I could see the benefits that it could decrease people in the jail, it could decrease the number of mental health people or behavioral health crises in the emergency rooms and it will decrease the number of inpatient psychiatric beds," Rodriquez said.

The Bonneville County Sheriff's Office is in support of the proposed center. They also believe it can help.

The Department of Health and Welfare is asking the state for $5 million to pay for the three centers. They should know by the end of March if they will get the money.

Idaho does not have a behavioral crisis center, but if the proposed center takes off and is successful, the whole program could expand to other regions in the state.

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