- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is expanding a state-funded program that provides help to people with mental health and addiction issues.

Following a successful track record at the state’s first crisis center, two more are slated to open — one in Twin Falls and one in Boise. People can stay at the centers for up to a day and begin to get help for addiction or mental illness, reported the Times-News (https://bit.ly/28JfMrW ).The state pays for the centers and contracts with local agencies to run them.

The original crisis center, the Behavior Health Crisis Center of East Idaho, opened in December 2014. It helped more than 2,000 people in its first year and is on track to help nearly twice as many this year.

“It saves money. It saves lives,” said Brenda Price, Crisis Center Coordinator, who said she has seen people who came in during a low point go on to lead successful lives.

Before the crisis center opened, many of its clients had been hospitalized or ended up in jail. Officials say the centers provide an alternative intervention for people with behavioral issues when being jailed or hospitalized isn’t appropriate.



Most people check themselves in, although many are referred by law enforcement or the local hospital.

“We’ll take people there who are in a crisis that doesn’t necessarily meet the level of hospitalization,” said Idaho Falls Police Lt. Steve Hunt, a member of the crisis center’s board. He said that could include someone with suicidal thoughts but who hasn’t taken any real steps toward self-harm, or when someone appears disoriented but not necessarily violent.

“We need compassionate care for them, and opportunity for them to heal,” said Barbara Dahl, the center’s case management supervisor, who has been there since it opened.

The average stay at the Idaho Falls center is a little less than 15 hours. Price said most clients visit just once, but there are some repeat visitors — many of them people who used to end up in the emergency room repeatedly.

In some cases, like when someone is detoxing, people are discharged and then immediately readmitted, explained Price.

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Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com

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