It’s a new day for mental health care in North Alabama, especially for those in crisis. And it’s about time.
“Thank you so much for supporting WellStone, the level of community engagement is just absolutely phenomenal,” said Alabama Mental Health Commissioner Kim Boswell, adding, “It takes courage to do the new thing.”
On Monday, Sept. 19, Governor Kay Ivey and Commissioner Boswell joined other dignitaries, donors, corporate and civic leaders, and mental health advocates for the official ribbon cutting of our new, state-of-the-art facility, WellStone Emergency Services (WES). In all, more than 200 people turned out for the dedication of this highly anticipated and desperately-needed facility.
The 24/7 psychiatric care center is the first of its kind in our community and will serve those in mental health or substance use crisis. These clients, who have traditionally gone to jail or the local Emergency Department, will finally receive the quality, compassionate mental healthcare they need with the dignity they deserve.
“We’re not following anymore in mental health in Alabama. We’re now leading,” said House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.
WES has served clients in a temporary, limited-capacity location since May 2021. In a short time, this small team has made a huge impact, helping hundreds of clients find hope and healing. While the mental health industry sees a standard 35-50% for 30-day readmission rates among individuals who receive mental health and substance use crisis care, WES has maintained a 1% readmission rate.
When individuals receive care from the WES team, they are set soundly on the path toward health and well-being. WES case managers work closely with clients, ensuring they can access the follow-up care needed to achieve, and maintain, recovery.
“My administration, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, and the Alabama legislature have increased and sustained mental healthcare as a primary focus and investment for the citizens of our state,” said Gov. Ivey.
In late 2020, WellStone was one of three organizations initially awarded state funding to provide crisis care in Alabama. Now, we have six centers throughout the state, either operating or preparing to open. WellStone was the only organization to build from the ground up.
“You can have all the great ideas, you can have all the plans, but if you don’t have the resources behind that then it doesn’t mean much,” said WellStone CEO Jeremy Blair with gratitude to state and local leaders. “Thank you for putting your trust in WellStone. We will continue to earn that trust by delivering excellent service to our community.”
Read coverage from yesterday’s event, and view the full photo album. Special thanks to photographer Jeff White for his incredible work capturing our special day.
View photos from our special day:
The state along with the City of Huntsville, City of Madison, and Madison County have collectively committed $5 million to the project. With a $10 million price tag, WellStone is at a $5 million shortfall. Fortunately, we’ve seen overwhelming support from local donors, who have given more than $500,000 through our “Be the Rock” Capital Campaign. Please consider joining them with your own tax-deductible gift, and help us build a strong foundation of compassion, connection, and community for those in mental health and substance use crisis.
Click here to learn more about WellStone Emergency Services.