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Nation's First Mental Health "Step-Down" Center Coming To Ohio

Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

Mental health officials in Ohio are celebrating the final step in fundraising for what’s thought to be the first mental health center of its kind in the country, planned for the Athens area.

The Ohio office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says the best way to think of the 16-bed facility is as a step-down facility for mental health patients.

The rehabilitation center will take in patients who are leaving hospitals, but not quite ready to reenter society.

“We think this was the missing link when we closed the hospitals back in the '80s,” says Terry Russell, the executive director of NAMI Ohio.  “We made promises for a community support system, and what we’re doing now is meeting that promise.”

Russell says people leaving hospitals after getting treatment for a mental health crisis are 14 times more likely to take their own lives.

Russell says they crossed the fundraising threshold with a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Unlike the now-closed mental health hospitals, the new facility will be completely voluntary for patients. It will be named the Adam-Amanda Mental Health Rehabilitation Center, in honor of two young adults - Adam Knapp and Amanda Baker- who committed suicide after leaving the hospital.

Employees will focus on mental health rehabilitation and finding permanent housing for residents, who will be able to stay in the facility up to 50 days.

Russell says they hope to break ground on the new facility on May 20, and open it by December.