When the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners announced in February that they were purchasing land to build a mental health crisis stabilization center, it started a countywide conversation about mental health and the lack of treatment options in the area.
The county received hundreds of calls, emails and messages of support as well as first-hand accounts from individuals and families struggling with mental health issues.
“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly said. “People recognize that we’re dealing with a crisis, and they’re happy to see Sarpy take a leadership role.”
Throughout the process, Sarpy County’s Mental Health Leadership Team has met with a number of potential partners, including health care providers, service organizations and donors. Because of these ongoing conversations, the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners has decided against purchasing the six-acre plot of land near 25th Street and Highway 370.
“From the beginning, we wanted to remain flexible enough to accommodate any and all good ideas for the crisis stabilization center. We are close to formalizing a partnership that has shifted our focus away from a stand-alone facility to one built in conjunction with other organizations in our community. We believe this option will better serve the needs of Sarpy County as well as the goals of our partners,” Kelly said.
The county’s purchase agreement for the land near Nebraska Medicine-Bellevue included a 120-day due diligence period that allowed the county to withdraw from the purchase without any financial penalties.
“The location for the stabilization center may be changing, but our commitment to mental health is not,” Kelly said. “We cannot sit idly by while our jails and emergency rooms serve as de facto mental health wards. We earmarked a million dollars to purchase land for the stabilization center, so that’s money we can put toward the facility itself. With the help of Region 6 and other community partners, we’ll be able to help people from across the region who are experiencing mental health crises.”
The stabilization center will be available to all law enforcement agencies in the Region 6 service area, which includes Sarpy, Cass, Douglas, Washington and Dodge counties.
According to Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis, “a mental health crisis stabilization center would allow persons with a mental illness to receive proper treatment and avoid incarceration, furthering Sarpy County’s goal to decriminalize mental illness.”