So many things can go wrong when people need mental health treatment.
Their problems can go untreated and get worse.
They can end up being confronted by police.
They can end up in the emergency room, which is a great place for emergency medical care, not usually for mental health care.
What must not be allowed to go wrong in Deschutes County is for one of the county’s best solutions to providing emergency mental health care to falter. Funding to keep the Deschutes County Stabilization Center open 24/7 will fall off a cliff in about a year. Let’s not let that happen.
Adults and children can walk into the center and get short-term, mental health treatment and stabilization. Police officers can drop people off who need mental health treatment, not jail time. And that can save county law enforcement hours of time because they used to have to wait for patients to get treatment in the emergency room.
Since the stabilization center opened over a year ago in June, it has had about 4,000 visitors. Many have been brought in by law enforcement. About 20% to 30% would have ended up in the emergency room, instead. A fraction of the patients, 3%, say they would have taken their own life. Most are not homeless — only about 25%. And most of the patients live in the city of Bend, about 62%.
Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang asked Bend city councilors Thursday for a commitment of $400,000 a year to help keep the center open 24/7. Bend Mayor Sally Russell said the request would be considered.
We don’t know what the answer is for money to keep the center operating 24/7. We do know the center has been transformative for mental health care in Deschutes County, as Chang said. It has been transformative for county law enforcement.
Don’t let it fall off the cliff.