Governor Kay Ivey joined the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the JBS Mental Health Authority, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and other community leaders for an exclusive look, ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at the new Craig Crisis Care Center in Birmingham to obtain.
The Craig Crisis Care Center, which serves 20 counties in central Alabama, is designed to support people dealing with a mental health or substance use crisis. The facility is one of six such centers statewide that make up Alabama’s Crisis System of Care.
Governor Kay Ivey, far left, addresses hundreds of community partners. (Alabama Department of Health)
“Improving access to mental health care in Alabama has been a top priority for my administration from the very beginning, and I am proud to celebrate the opening of Alabama’s fourth crisis center here in Birmingham,” Ivey said. “Across all major regions in Alabama, we are working diligently to improve our mental health landscape to ensure we are making positive changes in the lives of those in Alabama who need it most.”
In 2020, Ivey and the Alabama Legislature allocated $18 million to establish crisis centers in Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery, followed by another $6 million for Birmingham in 2021. Last year, Ivey canceled funding for crisis centers in Tuscaloosa and Dothan.
Historically, Alabama has had few immediately accessible options for people dealing with a mental health or substance use crisis. As a result, local jails and emergency rooms have been inundated with people with behavioral health crises. The Craig Crisis Care Center will be a designated location for community groups, law enforcement, first responders and families to provide individuals with the timely professional services they need in the most appropriate setting. Instead of waiting several hours to get someone to a jail or emergency room, law enforcement can transfer the person to the crisis center in 15 minutes or less.
The Craig Crisis Care Center will serve residents of 20 counties. (Alabama Department of Health)
“We have a tremendous need for 24-hour mental health care in Jefferson County,” said Kimberly Boswell, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. “The realization of the Craig Crisis Care Center is the result of a connected, community-driven effort that will save lives by providing a place to go for those experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. The center will also save our law enforcement agencies significant time and resources and reduce the burden on prisons and emergency rooms.”
Led by JBS Executive Director Jim Crego and Dr. Sabrina Scott, director of the Craig Crisis Care Center, the facility will have 32 temporary observation beds with a maximum length of stay of 23 hours and 16 extended observation beds that can accommodate individuals for up to five days. Once patients have stabilized, the crisis center team will work directly with community partners and hospitals to coordinate appropriate aftercare services.
“Our team at JBS has a tremendous opportunity to be at the forefront of mental health and substance use crisis care in Jefferson County,” Crego said. “We represent just one part of a significant local and national community effort that has made it possible to bring this incredible facility to Birmingham. From law enforcement and legislators to advocacy groups, other nonprofit organizations and hospitals, we are grateful to have built such an incredible network of dedicated partners.”
Patient rooms are designed for security and privacy. (Alabama Department of Health)
The Craig Crisis Care Center will serve residents of 20 Alabama counties. (Alabama Department of Health)
A waiting room in the new center. (Alabama Department of Health)
The Craig Crisis Care Center is named after Dr. Richard Craig, who was Executive Director of the JBS Mental Health Authority for 23 years. Craig, a veteran mental health pioneer and advocate, helped spark the first conversation about the need for Alabama’s Crisis System of Care decades ago. Throughout his long career, Craig has won many awards and honors, including the NAMI Alabama Lifetime Achievement Award and the Annual Alabama Institute for Recovery HOPE Award.
“DR. Craig’s incredible leadership and enthusiasm for introducing new mental health services has positively impacted countless individuals and families across the state,” said Crego. “He will forever be embedded in the fabric of Alabama’s Crisis System of Care.”
Craig Crisis Care Center provides services regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Expecting to start operations soon, JBS is hiring several positions including nurses, clinicians and technicians. Visit jbsmentalhealth.com/employment for more information.