MENTAL HEALTH

New bill: developers get valuable Provo land, Utah gets more mental health facilities

Jan 22, 2024, 3:00 PM | Updated: 4:44 pm

Rep. Tyler Clancy speaks about the anti-DEI bill that passed out of a committee meeting at the Capi...

Rep. Tyler Clancy speaks about the anti-DEI bill that passed out of a committee meeting at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. Clancy has proposed an idea that would sell Utah State Hospital in return for more mental health facilities. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah — The state legislature is considering a bill that could reshape Utah’s mental health landscape for decades.

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Utah County, has sponsored HB299, a bill that seeks to break up the Utah State Hospital and build new mental health institutions statewide. He said the need has never been greater.

“Right now in Utah, our number one mental health providers are county jails and our state prisons,” Clancy told KSL Newsradio. “And so, we set out to change that.”

To pay for it, Clancy proposes selling the Utah State Hospital and its valuable land that overlooks Utah Valley.

 

Last year, Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, called the hospital area “prime real estate” and proposed legislation to sell it.

Clancy’s bill contains similar ideas but is attached to a larger goal.

“The vision is to have a state mental hospital in southern, central, and northern Utah,” said Clancy.

However, this plan does not mean the Utah State Hospital will turn to rubble anytime soon.

Developing new mental health facilities

During the implementation phase, Clancy said the state would lease back the land for a cheap price. It would then be used as a mental health treatment center.

When faced with potential criticism that this might be a land grab by developers who see the terrain as a premier location, Clancy said he understands to a degree.

“I mean,” said Clancy, “I kind of scratch my head and say, ‘how are we going to come up with close to a billion dollars of ongoing funding that we’ll need to build the mental health infrastructure that we need?'”

The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the hospital. It’s staying neutral on Rep. Clancy’s plan.

“Above all,” said DHHS spokesman Joe Dougherty, “we need to provide the best care. So if it needs to be done in a central facility as we’ve been doing, great. If it’s very possible it can work in a dispersed model, absolutely it’s possible.”

One hitch in the plan? Whether there are enough mental healthcare staff.

Dougherty said the Utah State Hospital has experienced a personnel crunch for at least two years. This is consistent with what hospitals are experiencing nationwide.

“Are there going to be the right number of professionals,” said Dougherty, “psychiatrists and psychologists throughout the state, who could go work in a facility like that?”

Dougherty sent KSL Newsradio a statement regarding the agency’s plans for the future:

“Last week, our department participated in the public release of the state’s Behavioral Health Assessment and Master Plan, a guide we helped formulate. Along with health systems, public health partners, and stakeholders, we will use this plan to create a more accessible and effective mental health system and substance use disorder system in our state. Part of that plan calls for continuing to build out Utah’s behavioral health crisis and stabilization systems, so that resources are distributed across the state and integrated with schools, law enforcement, jails, courts and re-entry programs. The plan also calls for improving the availability of services and supports for people with serious mental illness and their families.”

Under Clancy’s bill, people with severe mental illness and an abnormally long criminal record—at least 15 felonies and 20 misdemeanors per year—would be required to check into a mental health facility. The rule comes from a study sponsored by the Utah Legislature that found a strong overlap among homelessness, mental health, and crime.

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Mental Health

Chief of Police for Price City Police Department, Brandon Sicilie, holding PeeDee....

Britt Johnson

Abandoned puppy finds a home at the Price Police Department

PeeDee, a puppy found on the side of a roadway during a dispatch call, has found a new home with the Price City Police Department.

37 minutes ago

baby feet, utah postpartum retreat helps new moms...

Britt Johnson

Utah company aims to help postpartum moms with special retreats

The founder of Utah Postpartum Retreat said she thinks new moms are at high risk for developing postpartum mood disorders because they lack support.

8 hours ago

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, speaks about HB261 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19,...

Aimee Cobabe

Lawmaker wants to increase maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments

Utah lawmakers are supporting a bill to increase the maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments.

9 days ago

woman with a therapeutic device on her head to treat depression...

LAURA UNGAR

A brain pacemaker helped a woman with crippling depression. It may soon be available to more people

Researchers say deep brain stimulation, or DBS — could eventually help many of the nearly 3 million Americans with treatment-resistance depression.

9 days ago

Mothers and mental health...

Mira Cheng, CNN

Maternal mental health conditions drive climbing death rate in US, research says

The maternal mortality rate in the US is two- to threefold greater than in other high-income countries and increasing.

9 days ago

Students walk to their buses after school at Rose Springs Elementary in Erda, Tooele County, on Thu...

Britt Johnson

Schools in Utah to get Kindness eWalls

Kindness eWalls display positive messages submitted by a school's students, teachers and parents.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

New bill: developers get valuable Provo land, Utah gets more mental health facilities