Centre County moves forward with new walk-in mental health facility

The Centre County Office of Human Services expects to serve more than 15,000 residents next year as it enhances its services and adds a new resource to its mental health office ⁠— a 24/7 walk-in center for crisis assessment.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved a $694,981 contract with Center for Community Resources, a licensed crisis provider stationed in Butler County. The center will provide 24-hour service for individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“They bring out a wealth of ability to what we are hoping for,” Natalie Corman, Centre County Human Services administrator, said at a June meeting where the final candidate for the crisis assessment center was introduced.

CCR operates in counties throughout Pennsylvania and provides individuals with walk-in and hotline services and referrals. CCR’s Director of Programs Shannon Quick formerly served as director of Centre County’s Can Help, a hotline for drug, alcohol and mental health services.

“Shannon knows our world,” Corman said in June. “She’s lived ... and worked in Centre County.”

Corman presented the contract to the board of commissioners last month. CCR has not announced an official location or start date for the service; however, Corman said the center will be easily accessible. The provider, which meets with Corman biweekly, is deciding between leasing and owning property. Once a decision has been made, the start date will become more concrete.

“It does allow us to have another avenue for individuals to come into the mental health system, and to receive services, begin their journey or continue their journey of recovery,” Commissioner Michael Pipe said in June.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Corman presented the 2019-20 Human Services Block Grant Plan, which outlines the services and spending for providers in the Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities, Drug and Alcohol and Adult Services programs. The county has been involved with the block grant program since 2013. Corman said the program allows the county to “improve the flexibility” of funding.

“We’re sustaining all of our current services,” Corman said. “We’ve expanded services to include ... mobile medication, mobile psychiatric rehabilitation. Both of those have been just to make sure we meet the needs of some of the rural communities.”

Corman said the county has allocated additional funds to improve its case management and crisis intervention services, supportive housing programs and opioid services.

“We received public comment ... we’ve taken that into account,” Corman said. “You’ll find that public comment is put into our plan, and I think for the 19-20 year, there will be further opportunities for us to explore things based on the comments we are receiving.”

The total amount of funding, Corman said, is $6,630,587. The state match is $5,807,791. Centre County allocates $255,796 — 4.61% of funding which is required by the state. Commissioner Steve Dershem said participating in the block grant program is beneficial because the county can meet throughout the year to see where resources can be improved.

“The countless lives that have been impacted ... at the end of the day that’s what these services are all about,” Pipe said.

Through these enhancements, Corman estimates about 15,040 individuals will be served by the human services programs — almost 10% of the county’s population.

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Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.