Salt Lake City Council vote to fund temporary mental health reception center

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council will vote Tuesday morning to fund a temporary mental health reception center at the Huntsman Institute for Mental Health.

County Councilwoman Amy Winder Newton joined KSL NewsRadio’s Jeff Kaplan to discuss what a temporary mental health receiving center might look like.

Winder Newton began by explaining that construction of the Kim and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center in South Salt Lake City would not be completed for another two years. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, November 22, the Salt Lake County Council will vote to appropriate some federal ARPA dollars to expand and staff the Huntsman Mental Health Institute to fund a temporary mental health reception center.

When necessary, she said, police can transfer individuals with mental illness to a reception center, rather than a prison or emergency room.

“I know our friends in Salt Lake City are very excited about this,” she told Kaplan. “There are so many issues where you might have a mentally ill person trespassing in a business, or they have problems or whatever in the downtown community… Now there’s a place for their employees to take, where they can get real help.”

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

“In the time I’ve been on the council, I’ve never seen eight council members sponsor an agenda item,” Salt Lake County President Lori Stringham said in the press release. “This demonstrates the Council’s commitment to supporting our residents’ mental health resources.”

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

How will the Temporary Mental Health Reception Center help its patients?

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

“If you have someone there, who has it [a] Mental illness, they have specialists who can help them figure out a diagnosis and medication [or] Get follow-up care,” she said.

Besides, she says the facility will help save money.

“It would save taxpayers money if there weren’t as many inpatients,” she said. “It would also save money by not having the same people in and out of prisons, as we can’t really help them there in the same way.”

Jeff Kaplan’s Afternoon News can be heard weekdays from 3-7 p.m

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