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A New Mental Health Crisis Care Center In South Salt Lake Hopes To Provide ‘Compassionate Care’

A photo of people in construction hats breaking ground with shovels.
Ivana Martinez
Community leaders gathered Wednesday to break ground on the Huntsman Mental Health Institutes’ new Crisis Care Center.

University of Utah Health and community leaders came together Wednesday, to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Huntsman Mental Health Institutes’ new Crisis Care Center. It’s scheduled to open in 2023.

The new building is located in South Salt Lake and will be a part of a future site for the Huntsman's Campus of Hope.

Gov. Spencer Cox said over the last year losing human connection because of the pandemic has been a struggle for Utahns.

“The data is very clear. We know that [mental health] is a greater challenge for us in Utah, than in some other states,” Cox said.

In March, the Huntsman Mental Health Institute found four in 10 adults in Utah said they have experienced anxiety or depression since the start of the pandemic.

Community leaders said they hope this center will keep people with mental health issues out of jail and from needing emergency room visits.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said the center will be a better alternative to reacting to crises than calling the police.

“We knew that we needed a better solution than a well meaning officer in one of our communities, having no choice but to unfortunately dismiss an incident on the streets of mental illness or substance abuse,” Wilson said. “This center alleviates that problem.”

The center will be open 24/7 and patients can receive care at no cost. It will have the capacity to treat 30 people at a time in its stabilization center and have 24 in-patient rooms for people needing longer care.

Michael Good, CEO of U of U Health said the center will be a place where people can get quick and compassionate care.

“It will be a place where we develop through research, better diagnostic and treatment approaches for people in crisis,” Good said.

Charlie Ellis has had his own experiences with mental health issues. He said a couple years ago on Christmas when he was experiencing a mental health crisis, one of his friends had called a center for him.

Ellis said he was then handcuffed in a mall parking lot and taken to the ER; after they determined he was not a danger to himself they let him go.

He said he received no follow-up care or counseling but several medical bills.

“Now, our emergency rooms are physical trauma centers, they are trained very well in taking care of such things, such situations, but mental health is a different issue,” Ellis said.

He said he’s glad this new location will be more involved and will provide personalized care.

“This is a fantastic change in the way we're looking at it,” Ellis said. “No longer are we looking at it in a black and white sense of if you're a danger to yourself or you go back out — the campus of hope is going to provide people with the ability and hope [for] ongoing recovery.”

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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