When ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt were lifted to mark the start of construction on Burrell Behavioral Health’s Youth Resiliency Campus, symbolic ground was also being broken in mental health care for youth ages 13-17.
Speaking at the Sept. 18 groundbreaking ceremony, Burrell administrative leader C.J. Davis said, “We’re here to celebrate a project that changes lives in southwest Missouri, and once completed, this Youth Resiliency Campus will be, to our knowledge, unique to the state and possibly unique to the country.”
The facility, which will be adjacent to Perimeter Behavioral Hospital in the 2800 block of North National Avenue, will offer an always-open Youth Behavioral Crisis Center, plus intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization and a long-term youth residential facility to treat teens experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis.
Davis, the CEO of Burrell parent company Brightli, noted suicide rates, depression and anxiety are on the rise.
“Together, we have an opportunity as a community to make a difference addressing each of those concerns,” he said.
$14 million project
Burrell purchased the parcel of land from Perimeter. Hood-Rich Inc. is architect for the 27,500-square-foot project.
The development is estimated to cost $14 million, according to Matthew Lemmon, Burrell’s vice president of communications. Funds come from a $5.3 million American Recovery Plan Act allocation from Greene County, with $1 million provided by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The residential portion is funded by a $5 million allocation in the current budget of the state of Missouri, administered through DMH. The balance of the cost will be assumed by Burrell.
Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon said the Youth Behavioral Crisis Center was the first and largest recipient selected to receive county ARPA funding, and the reason was that a preponderance of applications the county received pointed to one need in the community: mental health services.
That need has already been addressed, in part, with an adult Behavioral Crisis Center – the Rapid Access Unit – that opened in May 2020 at 800 S. Park Ave. That facility, for ages 18 and up, is an entry point for mental health consultations and treatment that is available without an appointment or referral. It is operated by Burrell with funding from Greene County, the Missouri Foundation for Health, CoxHealth and Mercy.
The youth campus will extend these services to teen members of the community, and the success of the adult center made it an obvious choice for county ARPA funds, according to Dixon.
“We decided to go early and big, and I’m so proud of the Burrell team and the partnership on the original crisis center,” Dixon said.
Commissioners knew it was important to address the needs of youth, he said.
“What we’re doing today will be a point of hope for countless youth in our county, but much bigger than that – in our region,” he said.
Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams chairs the board of directors for Brightli. He said the Youth Resiliency Campus meets an unfilled need in the community.
“There’s a gap in services,” he said, noting youth in crisis can’t access the adult Behavioral Crisis Center, yet they are not charged with a crime that would require juvenile detention services or in need of medical care from a hospital emergency room.
“This will give us a location in law enforcement that’s open 24/7 to take them to get them evaluated and get assistance for their needs,” he said.
He added that schools, too, will be able to make referrals to the Youth Behavioral Crisis Center, and families will be able to access services immediately when they are needed.
“When parents are at their wits’ end, this is a place to go to seek help, and it will provide services that are available right now,” he said. “In the long term, it may keep them from needing those services as an adult.”
Clay Goddard, president of Burrell’s southwest region, said options are currently limited for people ages 13-17 who are having behavioral health issues like depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
“Sometimes, the only option might be the emergency room, which is really not an ideal situation,” he said. “That’s really not what an emergency department is intended to do. We’re going to have mental health professionals available to help families navigate those situations.”
Mitra Pedram, Burrell’s director of the behavioral crisis center and youth residential services, agreed that youth services are necessary.
“We’ve seen success with our adult Behavioral Crisis Center, and we were really directly asked, can we do something for youth, so we’re trying to meet that need,” she said.
On the adult side, Pedram said the utilization trend is on the rise. In the 2022 calendar year, the adult Behavioral Crisis Center had 1,917 visits, but that number has already been surpassed in 2023. She said 285 adults used the center’s services in the month of July alone.
Pedram added that the community has expressed a need for more levels of care for youth.
“We’ve got some great outpatient options, we’ve got a really solid residential program, and there are maybe some levels of care that are needed in between those two things,” she said. “We’re excited that this campus is going to offer that.”
The project consists of two phases to be completed simultaneously, Lemmon said. Phase I is the 24/7 crisis center and the intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization space. Phase II is the residential component.
“We do plan to work on both simultaneously, though cannot pinpoint exact individual timelines at the moment,” he said.
Both phases are expected to be completed within 18-24 months, Lemmon said.
Time is of the essence for care of youth in crisis, according to Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Kehoe said young people shouldn’t have to wait days to receive care in a crisis, and through these cooperative efforts, the Youth Resiliency Campus will ensure that they won’t have to.
“This couldn’t be a more perfect example of that collaboration and what it takes in a community to put something like this together,” he said.
Digital Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
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