Salt Lake Co. Council voting to fund temporary mental health receiving center

Nov 21, 2022, 8:30 PM
mental health rural...
Exterior of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute on the campus of the University of Utah. Photo credit: Huntsman Mental Health Institute

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Council will vote Tuesday morning on Funding for a temporary mental health receiving center at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

County councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton joined KSL NewsRadio’s Jeff Caplan to discuss what the temporary mental health receiving center may look like.

Winder Newton began by explaining that the construction of the Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center in South Salt Lake City will not be complete for another two years. In the meantime, on Tuesday, Nov. 22,  Salt Lake County Council will vote to allocate some federal ARPA dollars to an expansion and staffing of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute to fund a temporary mental health receiving center.

She said, when necessary, police can take individuals with mental illness to a receiving center, rather than a jail or an emergency room.

“I know our friends at Salt Lake City are so excited about this,” she told Caplan. “There are so many issues where you may have a mentally ill person who’s trespassing in a business, or who’s having issues or whatever in our downtown community… Now there’s a place that their employees can take them, where they can get real help.”

According to a Salt Lake County press release, eight of the nine council members are co-sponsoring a $2.5 million one-time fund for the temporary center.

“In the time I’ve been on the Council, I’ve never seen eight council members co-sponsor an agenda item,” Salt Lake County Chair Laurie Stringham said in the press release. “This shows the commitment of the Council to support mental health resources for our residents.”

The press release states that the funding will cover 17 months of staffing to allow operations at the center to begin in April 2023.

How will the temporary mental health receiving center help its patients?

Winder Newton said the temporary center will be an actual behavioral health facility.

“If you’ve got somebody there, who has [a] mental illness, they have professionals who can help them figure out a diagnosis, medication [or] have follow-up care,” she said.

Along with this, she says the facility will help save money.

“It’s going to save money for taxpayers on not having as many inpatients,” she said. “It will also save money by not having the same people cycle in and out of the jails, where we’re not really able to help them there in the same manner.”

Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News can be heard on weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Read more: USU opens new mental health fund in memorial of Coach Anderson’s fallen son

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Salt Lake Co. Council voting to fund temporary mental health receiving center