Huntsville medical provider looks to create new 24-hour mental health clinic

The CEO of WellStone Behavioral Health wants to create a program that will ultimately keep people who suffer from mental illnesses out of jail, who don't belong there.

Posted: May 3, 2019 4:51 PM
Updated: May 3, 2019 4:53 PM

A Huntsville healthcare provider wants to create a "first of its kind" facility in Alabama: a 24-hour clinic where people can get round the clock care for mental health.

WellStone Behavioral Health Center treats people for mental health and substance abuse issues.

The CEO of WellStone said not every mental health patient needs a hospital if they're seeking treatment. He said they belong in an environment where the help they get will be a process and not a one-time event with medication.

"In the year that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission that we take a giant leap forward in providing crisis care to those who need it in our community," said Jeremy Blair, CEO of WellStone.

Blair said a lot of people who suffer from mental health issues don't end up receiving the right kind of help. This is why he wants to create a clinic where people will get help tailored to anything, from depression to suicidal thoughts.

He said the program will work in three stages.

The patient will receive medicine they need, they'll stay in-house for as long as needed until they're calm and they'll be appointed someone to help them through the process until they're better to live on their own again.

Blair said he's been working on the program for a long time.

"This is something we've been working towards for, really, five years. It's not something we just kind of all of a sudden wanted to do," he said.

WellStone says it will need state funding to make the plan a reality. They won't know if that happens until the the legislative session ends this month.

Nick Snead says he has experienced severe depression, and he says a 24-hour program is needed.

"I needed to be somewhere safe where somebody could help me, and I want there to be more places for people that are in situations like this," said Snead.

He recalled a time when he chose self-harm over dealing with his emotions.

"For some reason, if I had to choose between those two things, I'd choose the broken bone ten times over," he said.

WellStone says, if it gets the state funding, the facility could house more than 50 patients at one time, and police would be able to bring people there instead of jail, if they're showing signs of mental distress.

WellStone also says one of the program's main missions would be to keep people out of jail, who don't need to be there.

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