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New center will help keep mental health patients out of jails and ERs in Greenville

New option for mental health treatment in Greenville

Greenville, S.C. (WSPA) - More resources are coming to Greenville for people suffering from mental illness. 

Greenville Mental Health, the Greenville Police Department, Bon Secours St. Francis, Greenville Health Systems, NAMI, Mental Health of America, FAVOR Greenville, the Phoenix Center, and Miracle Hill have all teamed up to create a new center called Greenville Shared Solutions to provide another treatment option for people with mental challenges. 

After an incident in 2010 where a mentally ill man died after being tased by Greenville Police, the department started focusing on Crisis Intervention Training.

"Deescalation training, signs and symptoms, how to tell if someone is suffering from mental illness," Capt. Stacey Owens who oversees the training said. 

Owens says 154 out of the 197 officers at the department are trained. That number includes most of the patrol officers who are answering calls. He says the department gets between 160 and 170 mental health calls a year. 

"That can be any type of call from the individual is depressed and thinking about committing suicide to I just observed someone talking to a tree," Owens said. 

However, he says there was still an unmet need. Currently, police only have the option to take a mentally ill person to jail or to the emergency room, but some cases don't require either. And, emergency rooms and jail cells could make a person's symptoms or episode worse. 

"The emergency room becomes another waiting room, and getting to see that mental health professional in a timely fashion is critical," NAMI Greenville Executive Director Ken Dority said. 

Shared Solutions will be housed in an building on the GHS campus but is not owned by the hospital. Organizers say they're starting small. The center will have 10 beds, eight for men and two for women. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it's designed for people to stay from three to five days. 

Miracle Hill will operate the center, and there will be a guard present at the location. 

"Until now, [we] haven't had a great resource to where it would kind of fit the need for everyone we respond to," Owens said. 

Owens says they won't work off referrals at first. Police will take people they deal with on calls to Shared Solutions. People will be immediately paired with a case manager to assist them in getting the proper help they need. 

"We have seen budgets slashed," Dority said. "We have seen resources go by the wayside. This is a step in the right direction for our entire community."

The center should be open by late summer.  

 


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