Championing Mental Health Care

Lane County is establishing a crisis stabilization center for youth and adults

Every day, all over our county, we have friends, neighbors or even family members that may be facing a mental health crisis. Time and again we see folks turning to our emergency rooms, law enforcement, substance abuse and, tragically, suicide to manage their suffering. 

However, there are better solutions that would not only relieve our emergency services but also care for those experiencing crisis in a more dignified and holistic way. Lane County is working on one of those solutions right now — a crisis stabilization center. 

Lane County’s stabilization center model will provide a place for both youth and adults who need mental health, substance addiction or developmental disabilities support and stabilization. It will be a 24/7 walk-in service for anyone in need. Services will incorporate a trauma-informed and harm-reduction focus, and a people-centered approach that allow guests a universal entrance to community services and government programs — coined the “no wrong door” approach. 

We are planning for a center that will accommodate 14 guests for 23-hour respite care. There will also be 12 beds for youth and 16 beds for adults that can serve clients for up to 30 days. Law enforcement will have a separate entrance for those that are able to be diverted from arrest. 

The center will assist up to 42 people at a time, with a capacity to help up to 1,500 youth and 6,700 adults per year. Co-located in the center will be various social services, support for families, behavioral health and addictions treatment. 

The collective impact to the whole community will be substantial, a game changer, really, in the way we help our most vulnerable neighbors. Not only is this a more humane, less traumatic and holistic way to help people in need, it creates a more effective and rapid connection to core services. The approach will save an estimated $77 million annually from the emergency services system costs across all levels of care. It is a win-win model, propelling changes in care across the nation. 

It has been clear to many that mental health support is in great need both locally and around the country. We’ve seen folks who wouldn’t otherwise be in jail but for the lack of mental health care. We ache for parents whose children are sent out of the community for crisis care due the gap in services for youth. The pandemic has brought stress and strain for all of us and touches each person in different ways. 

Mental health care is for everyone and makes our whole community safer and stronger. Please join me in championing mental health care, reducing its stigma and supporting our community. ν

Heather Buch, Lane County Commissioner, East Lane District 5