New mental health crisis center set to open in Southeast Austin

A look at a patient room in the new Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)
A look at a patient room in the new Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A long-awaited Austin facility for people who’ve gone through a mental health crisis is one step closer to opening its doors. The new Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care will hold an open house today and will start receiving patients at the end of the month.

Right now, the lack of access to emergency psychiatric services is putting a big strain on first responders. But the new center, in Southeast Austin at Highway 71 and Montopolis Drive, is expected to change that.

The center will provide emergency services to patients referred by other departments either voluntarily or by emergency detention from police.

It will be operated by Integral Care, the county’s mental health authority, and will provide short term care for adults experiencing a mental health crisis in Travis County. The center will have 16 beds and the average patient stay will be three to five days.

Officials expect the center to serve about 1,400 patients in the first year and 1,600 in the second year.

The people who have worked to make this center a reality say emergency rooms and jails are not the answer for some psychiatric cases

“Get their crisis resolved. It’s not going to solve their problem they still have mental illness but we can then assess the situation better and get them into the appropriate services,” explains Judge Guy Herman. “And that’s the hope of what the center will do.”

Last year Austin police responded to about 12,000 mental health calls. So far this year, they’ve hit about 6,7000.

“It’s needed and it’s going to be a valuable tool for the police department I can’t stress enough how much everyone has worked together to bring this to Austin,” Austin Police Sgt. Michael King said.

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