Public gets a look at walk-in crisis care center opening next month

Article originally published by The Frederick News-Post, August 30, 2023, by Gabrielle Lewis. For full article, please visit The Frederick News-Post website here. Photo by Guest.

In a newly unveiled facility housing the Mental Health Association’s walk-in crisis care center on Montevue Lane, a large counter has two sentences across the front in three languages.

One side of the counter reads, “You are resilient in the face of challenges.” The other side says, “In this space, you are safe and supported.”

Shannon Aleshire, the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County, said turning the building into a safe, welcoming space for anyone needing the center’s services was MHA’s true goal.

“As people were walking in … I watched people who had been here before and the expression on their face[s] when they walked through the door,” she said. “I know that we achieved our goal.”

Frederick County government and health department officials, state legislators, Mental Health Association staff members and others attended the unveiling of the facility at 340 Montevue Lane on Wednesday.

The MHA will start offering 24/7 walk-in crisis care services at the center beginning in mid to late September. The building is owned by the Frederick County government, and the MHA will operate under the direction of the Frederick County Health Department, according to a news release from the county.

During the unveiling, attendees walked around the space. There are multiple private rooms throughout the building, though they still are unfurnished, as well as privacy curtains in a larger main space.

Frederick County has been working to renovate the building since it identified the location for a county crisis stabilization center last year.

The facility and MHA expanding its services to be available 24/7 represent the first phase of the Frederick County Behavioral Health Crisis Stabilization plan. The second phase will begin in early 2024 and involves further renovations to the facility, as well as adding additional crisis stabilization services to the center.

The MHA currently offers walk-in crisis services at 226 S. Jefferson St. in Frederick from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Resources available through the walk-in services include suicide intervention, mental health, family, financial and employment resources. Clients can receive urgent psychiatric medication evaluations.

The association will still offer walk-in services on Jefferson Street until it officially moves to Montevue Lane.

Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater said the center will provide “a critical and long-needed resource to our community.”

“This care center … will expand and build on the county’s current behavioral health and substance-use disorder infrastructure,” she said. “When we all work together in partnership, we can solve complex problems and make life better for people and serve the residents that we are all here to work for each and every day.”

Funding for the center came from multiple sources, including congressionally directed spending, a state capital grant and part of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation, according to the county’s news release.

U.S. Rep. David Trone, said the creation of the center illustrates what can be accomplished when local, state and federal governments partner together.

“We can get stuff done — big stuff done, stuff done that puts people over the politics,” Trone, who is running for U.S. Senate, said. “Let’s not sit on our hands. Let’s keep looking for opportunities to keep putting people first.”