STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ)– A first-of-its-kind mental health center will soon open in Centre County. On Monday, WTAJ was given a tour inside the center to see the services it will look to provide.
The goal of the 24/7 walk-in center is to create a place where those experiencing crisis can turn, instead of going straight to the hospital.
A project over a year in the making, the crisis assessment center, located at 2100 East College Avenue, in Suite A, is taking a new approach to assisting those in need of help.
“It’s not institutional, you’re not looking at an emergency room setting… it’s calm, safe, it’s like your living room. We’re breaking down that barrier of what people do when they’re in a mental health crisis,” said Shannon Quick, Director of Programs for the Center for Community Resources.
Some feel the only solution involves a trip to the hospital. But, those running the center say what they’ll offer could be just as effective and will help those (of all ages) experiencing a wide range of crises.
“You don’t even need to have an idea of what you’re coming for… if you come in and say I’m not sure what I’m here for, we’ll help you figure that out,” Quick said.
A trip to the center starts with an assessment of the situation, including suicide risk. This is followed by a confidential one-on-one conversation, from one of two counselors always on duty.
Some, like students stressed from finals, may just need to relax for a time while doing something that takes their mind elsewhere. Others dealing with addiction can read and take self-help books with them (from a free lending library), creating a plan for success.
“The idea is when they leave, they have something very tangible,” Quick said.
For more serious situations there’s a separate phone line from the center straight to county police.
Center leadership feels a more open approach to mental health, through a neighborhood center, will see more locals come in seeking help.
“We need to think differently on how to save lives… our suicide rates are increasing even though we keep adding traditional services. That rate is steady… we have to think outside of that box on how to help people and how to save a life… that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Quick said.
The center also aims to host community events as a way to show it’s a place locals should not fear.
“We want people to walk in here the same way you’d walk into urgent care and had a scrape or needed stitches…. if you are feeling depressed or don’t know what you’re feeling. A lot of people have health conditions, and a lot of people don’t share that because of the stigma, so we want people to get rid of that stigma and realize that it’s just a health condition that gets treated the same as any other,” said Tammy Harrington, Program Manager, for the center.
Leadership says they hope to open the center by Friday, December, 6.