Daily Herald opinion: Crisis hub a worthy idea to address DuPage County's mental health needs

This editorial is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

Acknowledging the need for mental health and substance use disorder treatment, DuPage officials have made significant progress in expanding behavioral health services.

The county offers a crisis line, serves as a National Suicide Prevention 988 call center and has a mobile crisis response team.

Now public health officials in DuPage are pursuing a plan that would help ease the burden on emergency rooms and the county jail.

They want to build a behavioral health crisis hub at the county complex in Wheaton.

Our Alicia Fabbre wrote the proposed facility would be a place where residents experiencing a mental health crisis could be stabilized, evaluated and provided treatment. People with substance abuse issues also could go there to receive help.

"What this center does is create a pathway to be assessed and triaged by mental health specialists and get linked to necessary services," said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.

The center would have physicians and mental health professionals who would work to assess patients and give them a plan of action before they leave. Those plans could include a follow-up appointment with a counselor or admittance to an inpatient mental health care facility.

Right now, folks dealing with a mental health crisis often find themselves at a police station or a hospital.

A facility focused solely on mental health and substance abuse care is a better environment than a holding cell. And having a place where police officers can take people experiencing a mental health crisis frees up their time to deal with other calls.

Just because someone is in crisis does not mean they need the level of care a hospital provides. Officials say the behavioral health crisis hub would serve as a medically appropriate alternative.

The facility also would be a resource for the entire community. It would be open to anyone needing immediate mental health or substance use intervention.

Of course, the plan is not cheap. Some estimate construction alone could cost between $20 million and $25 million. And even though the county secured a $5 million state grant and a $1 million federal grant, additional money is needed.

But as DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin points out, similar facilities in Florida and Texas have helped improve public safety.

"There are many individuals truly in need of services and treatment," Berlin said. "If we can get them those services and treatment ahead of time, we're going to prevent criminal activity."

Increasing mental health services for the public is a goal worthy of support.

We hope DuPage can make its crisis hub become a reality.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.