An inside look at South Bend's brand-new 24/7 mental health crisis center

NOW: An inside look at South Bend’s brand-new 24/7 mental health crisis center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- South Bend’s 24/7 mental health crisis center is near completion. After years of work, it officially opens March 4.

The center follows a country-wide trend of focusing care to people that need immediate assistance when it comes to mental health before they make any harmful decisions in the moment.

“This is the urgent care center for our world,” says Laurie Nafziger, President and CEO of Oaklawn.

This 24/7 walk-in crisis center, operated by Oaklawn, will be a lifeline for people in crisis; staffed with experienced professionals who can immediately respond with appropriate resources to a full range of mental health and substance use disorders.   

“We’ll take the time to do an assessment, consider risk, listen, sort it out, de-escalate, make a plan, and go from there,” Nafziger explains.

Not only does a resource like this work to prevent tragedies, but it also helps local police officers deal with situations they’re not trained or equipped to handle. 

“By call volume, it only appears one and a half percent of our calls are mental health related, but I can assure you probably at least half if not more have some sort of mental health component involved in there,” explains South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski.

Local leaders say the crisis center will ensure the best quality treatment for those suffering mentally and allow health professionals to work in tandem with law enforcement, not parallel, like they have been for the last several years.

“Now we have the experts and now we have a location to bring them should we not know what to do at that moment in time,” Chief Ruszkowski says.

“They can leave you in the community, they can take you to jail, they can drop you off at the emergency department, and none of that is the best care so this crisis center fills that gap,” says Nafziger.

The City of South Bend covered the cost to buildout the project and fund its first year. 

The crisis center will officially be open to serve the public on Monday, March 4.

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