New mental health crisis center opens in Travis County

The Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care opens its doors to patients (Chris Nelson/KXAN).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A long-awaited facility opens its doors to its first patients Tuesday. The Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis will provide emergency services to people suffering a mental health crisis in Travis County. The goal is to get those suffering a crisis out of local hospitals and emergency rooms and into this facility to provide short term care and resources.

“We are the only type of facility that accepts folks on emergency detentions that’s in a non-hospital setting in the county,” says Laura Slocum, practice administrator at Integral Care.

This is not a walk-in type facility, patients have to be referred by the police department, mobile crisis outreach teams, or a local emergency room. The goal is for someone to stay a few days and receive psychiatric care, counseling, and help from a case worker who can find services that will support this person once they get back into the community.

“The idea is most mental health crisis can resolve in the first 48 hours of them beginning, so we want to quickly stabilize people so we can get them on that path to recovery and back out into the community as soon as possible, avoiding a hospital stay which tends to be lengthier and more expensive,” says Slocum.

The facility, which is located at 6600 E. Ben White Blvd.,  is for adults only and Slocum says the need is so great they expect to see 1,200 patients within the first year and will treat someone regardless of their ability to pay or if they have insurance.

Last year, the Austin Police Department responded to 12,000 mental health calls. Many times they receive repeat calls because it’s been found emergency rooms and jails are not equipped to treat mental health crisis. By this summer, APD has already responded to 6,700 mental health calls this year.

“We really had this missing link in the crisis continuum of care in Travis County,” says Slocum. “We didn’t have any facility that wasn’t a hospital for those on an emergency detention or a psychiatric commitment, so this fills a critical gap in our crisis continuum of care by providing a really intensive level of care in a non-hospital setting.”

Integral Care also has a 24/7 hotline for anyone suffering a crisis or needs to help a loved one, 512-472-HELP.

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