Daily Herald opinion: Crisis recovery center another positive step to address DuPage County’s mental health needs

Having to watch a loved one suffer a mental health or substance use crisis is painful and sad.

That terrible situation gets even worse when jail or a hospital emergency room are the only options because of a lack of resources close to home.

Acknowledging the need for a specialized facility where residents can get immediate help, public health officials in DuPage County are moving ahead with plans to build a crisis recovery center.

County leaders on Monday broke ground on a $25.8 million project to build the DuPage Crisis Recovery Center. The new 24/7 center will open in the summer of 2025 on the grounds of the DuPage County Health Department in Wheaton.

Family members, individuals and first responders will be able to bring those experiencing a crisis to the center, where they will be screened and cared for by trained mental health and substance use professionals and connected to community resources for continued support.

“This model will deliver the right services at the right time while also strengthening the overall system of care locally,” said Adam Forker, executive director of the county health department.

Officials say the staff at the center will include crisis services counselors, case managers, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners.

Staff members will work to assess patients and give them a plan of action within 24 hours. While the center will not provide long-term care, patients will receive referrals to other resources and service providers, including outpatient care or inpatient treatment at a county or private facility.

Right now, folks dealing with a mental health crisis often find themselves in a holding cell or an emergency room.

The crisis recovery center will provide a better environment for recovery than a police station or the county jail. It also will serve as an alternative to a hospital emergency room.

DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy said the facility will be open to anyone needing an immediate mental health or substance use intervention, regardless of whether they are insured, on public aid, or uninsured.

“This crisis recovery center will be the missing piece in our system, keeping people out of emergency rooms and jail,” Conroy said. “We know it will change lives.”

We applaud ongoing efforts by DuPage officials to expand the county’s behavioral health services. Programs added through the years include outpatient substance use treatment, a crisis line and mobile crisis response teams.

The construction of the crisis recovery center is another major positive step. It’s going to help people struggling with addiction and mental health issues and provide hope for those who love them.

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