As mental health-related calls increase across Minnesota, Hennepin County is doubling the number of its crisis beds — giving people in a mental crisis a place to go besides an expensive hospital room.
The county’s new mental health crisis stabilization program will open next year, part of a $4 million project that the County Board approved last month. The county is renovating its three-story detox building in south Minneapolis to include the 16-bed mental health crisis program, as well as add more detox beds.
“We know people are backing up in the hospitals and being brought to jail who would be better to receive this treatment,” said Leah Kaiser, area manager for Adult Behavioral Health. “This is certainly a needed service that we want to expand.”
Construction will start next February and wrap up by October 2017 at the building, 1800 Chicago Av.
As the number of mental health calls grows statewide, so has the need for crisis services to deal with psychotic disorders. Hennepin County contracts with the Nancy Page Crisis Residence for 16 crisis beds in Loring Park, and the planned renovation will double the number of county crisis beds.
“Clearly, a one 16-bed facility for a county the size of Hennepin County, with 900,000 adults, is certainly not going to meet the demand,” Kaiser said.
The crisis programs have licensed mental health professionals who provide assessments and plans designed to return clients to the community; typical stays are five to seven days, Kaiser said.
The county’s 60 mental health professionals, who staff its crisis line, annually field more than 24,000 calls and visits from adults and children in crisis. That’s up from 3,154 when the service started in 2006.
Across the seven-county metro area, the number of crisis calls and mobile visits rose an average of 72 percent from 2010 to 2015, a Star Tribune review found. Hennepin County alone has seen a jump of nearly 160 percent.
Now, Hennepin County’s new crisis beds will help meet that rising need as part of larger system reforms in Minnesota, Kaiser said. Hennepin County Medical Center also plans to open 16 crisis beds in the near future.
Back at 1800 Chicago Av., the project will boost the number of detox beds from 50 to 65 due to the demand for that program. Kaiser said the county will add a new model to allow some people to have shorter detox stays; average stays for more than a third of clients are expected to drop from two days to one day.
Likewise, the county hopes to pilot a model with mental health crisis beds to better connect people to community services.
“We need more programs that are community-based programs so we don’t have so many people hitting institutional programs,” said Jennifer DeCubellis, deputy administrator of health and human services.
To reach the county’s adult crisis line, call 612-596-1223; to reach the children’s line, call 612-348-2233.