Alabama Governor Kay Ivey confirmed exciting news for Tuscaloosa County Monday morning by officially announcing funding for a new mental health crisis center in the area.

In a Monday morning press release, Ivey said the state will fund the creation of two new crisis centers — one in Tuscaloosa County and one in Houston County servicing the Dothan area.

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As the Tuscaloosa Thread previously reported, roughly $7 million from the state will be awarded to Indian Rivers Behavioral Health in Tuscaloosa County, who will create and operate the new crisis center as a much-needed supplement to available mental health resources in the area.

The two new centers will join four others that the state recently announced and funded in Hunstville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile. Ivey's office called the creation of these crisis centers the "first major investment in state mental health services since Governor Lurleen Wallace’s administration," which ended in 1968.

“The state of Alabama is proud to continue doing its part to offer top-notch crisis care to people in need,” Ivey said in a statement. “During my time as governor, I’ve placed a renewed focus on finding innovative ways to support Alabamians that find themselves battling mental health issues, and I have no doubt that these two new facilities are going change lives for the better.”

Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Rob Robertson has long advocated for increased mental health resources in the area, and told the Thread last week that a new crisis center will alleviate pressure at the Tuscaloosa County Jail, at the emergency rooms of the DCH Health System and in pre-existing mental health facilities in the county.

"This is probably one of the fastest, most effective ways to help given the dynamics that exist," Robertson said last week. "You are reducing the number of folks who are cycling through the jail. You're reducing the number of people who end up in the emergency room. Now there will be an alternative, if someone appears to be medically stable, where that crisis center can help take the load off those two entities."

Read more from Judge Robertson's exclusive interview with the Thread here.

The details of the new crisis center have yet to be announced, except that it will be run by the team at IRBH.

“We are committed to ensuring all Alabamians have someone to call, someone to respond, and if needed, someplace to go in times of crisis,” Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kim Boswell said in the press release. “We are thankful for Governor Ivey’s leadership and the Legislature’s continued investment in our state’s crisis system of care, expanding access to even more individuals and their families.”

For ongoing coverage of mental health issues in the area and of the crisis center as it develops, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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