A mental health crisis center soon will open in Oklahoma City, but its opening will not increase the total number of badly needed beds for people in crisis.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has asked the Legislature for more crisis beds and has plans to eventually open five additional crisis centers statewide.
By early September, the department will open a newly built mental health urgent care and crisis center at 2625 General Pershing Blvd. Half of the center will serve as an urgent care unit, where people suffering from a mental health crisis can stay for up to 23 hours and 59 minutes.
The other half of the center has 16 rooms and will serve as an inpatient crisis center, where people will stay generally three to five days before being discharged, often to another mental health facility.
Carrie Slatton-Hodges, the mental health department's deputy commissioner of treatment and recovery, said the need for more crisis beds and centers isn't related so much to demand but rather to the fact that Oklahoma just doesn't have enough.
The Legislature recently funded the department to build three new crisis centers, but two of the centers the department wants to build remain unfunded.
“If each one of those had an urgent care component, we think we may be at about capacity, but it's hard to say for sure,” Slatton-Hodges said.
In Oklahoma, an estimated 620,473 adults suffer from mental illness, according to the department. Of those, 146,213 have a “serious” mental illness and an estimated 135,047 have experienced serious psychological stress in the past year.
In 2009, about 2,161 people were treated in Oklahoma County at a state crisis center. In 2012, that number increased to an estimated 2,500.
There are two crisis centers in Oklahoma County — the Oklahoma County Crisis Intervention Center at 1200 NE 13 and the Oklahoma Crisis Recovery Unit in Garrison Tower at 940 NE 13.