MILWAUKEE — Imagine an emergency department for your mental health instead of your physical health. That's becoming a reality in Milwaukee.
The new Mental Health Emergency Center will offer 24/7 crisis mental health assessment, stabilization, treatment and transition care management for anyone who needs help.
The center is located at North 12th Street and West Cherry Street.
It costs $18 million to get this new Mental Health Emergency Center off the ground, but elected officials and health care and community leaders say the amount of people it will help makes this project priceless.
"We are definitely making a step in the right direction. There is no question about that," Advocate Aurora Health Behavioral Health President Pete Carlson said.
This historic partnership will allow all of Milwaukee's four health systems to work together to bring people the best care available 24/7.
The center is a partnership between Milwaukee County and Milwaukee’s four health systems: Advocate Aurora Health, Froedtert Hospital, Children's Wisconsin and Ascension Wisconsin.
"This can't be a law enforcement issue, and this (new mental health center) allows us to truly bring the wrap around services, all the services people need, in one location," Mayor Tom Barrett stated.
While the Mental Health Emergency Center is still being built and will not open until 2022, Carlson said it will meet people where they are.
"80% of patients presented at a Psychiatric Crisis Services Center in Wauwatosa lived in this area," Carlson said.
Now, the barriers to receive mental health treatment will no longer exist for those who desperately need the help.
"If somebody comes in, they're not going to be necessarily getting therapy there, but they're going to be getting an assessment and we're going to get them connected to the right treatment," Carlson said.
He believes this model will alleviate some of the burden on emergency departments.
But with the labor market tight, there could be problem.
"My hope is that we don't have any issues finding people to come and work here," Carlson said.
Carlson said with the need there, something is finally being done.
"Before this I didn't know if we'd ever get our arms around the mental health crisis that's out there. This gives me hope," he said.
Gov. Tony Evers said the state is committing $5.7 million to support this vital project.
All four health systems have also budgeted $15 million towards the operation over the next 10 years.