Fresno County approves new mental health facility

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Fresno County officials approved a new mental health treatment facility that hopes to help thousands of suffering people. (KFSN)

A brand new facility is coming to Fresno to help some of the area's most vulnerable mental health patients.

For years Frenso County has grappled with a growing number of mental health patients with less services to treat those in crisis.

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea says, "We only deal with the most acute situations when somebody's in crisis and we didn't do the type of preventative work where when someone is showing issues early on, that we deal with them to deal with the problem then as opposed to when it becomes bigger."

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors hoped to change that today when they approved an architectural agreement to build a 16-bed adult crisis residential center.

The $5 million facility will be located on the corner of Huntington Boulevard and Barton Avenue. Officials hope it will open in 2017. Getting treatment to people faster for those who aren't eligible for in-patient hospitalization and need a place to stay.

Dawan Ultecht, Director of Fresno County Behavioral Health, says "Often times there are individuals who are often homeless or are having housing needs that are not being adequately met." At the center, they'll get mental health services and substance abuse help for up to 45 days. Utecht says currently, if patients here in Fresno County need this type of treatment they're sent out of town. She hopes that by keeping patients close to home they'll have a better success rate. While the new facility isn't meant to solve homelessness it's expected to help many who are in that category by providing a homelike setting.

Utecht says "That's one of our bigger challenges is getting people to participate in the services that are available to them. So, we think that by making a warm and welcoming facility that's more likely to happen."

Supervisor Perea says he hopes the facility will help the roughly 3,000 homeless people estimated to be in Fresno County.
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