Behavioral Health Crisis Center coming to Thomas County

THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry announced Wednesday the construction of a new Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Thomas County.

Officials say the BHCC will feature 24 beds and six temporary observation beds at an approximate annual investment of $5 million. The new BHCC, which will be administered by the Georgia Pines Community Service Board in Thomasville, is expected to create 58 new jobs in Thomas County.

"The new Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Thomas County will help our agency achieve its mission of serving individuals with mental health challenges as close to home as possible," said Berry in a news release. "The new center also represents our commitment to increasing mental health services throughout Region 4, while reducing burdens on hospitals and law enforcement agencies."

DBHDD officials say they plan to invest a total of more than $17.5 million annually in expanded infrastructure and services throughout the region for those who live with mental health challenges, an amount that is in addition to other mental health services the agency currently provides.

Officials also say that new or expanded services are set to include BHCCs, crisis stabilization units, intensive case management teams and mobile crisis teams. The Thomas County BHCC and others in DBHDD Region Four will become emergency receiving facilities for law enforcement to drop off individuals who require mental health services.

A BHCC is meant to combine short-term, 24/7, walk-in crisis intervention and counseling services with emergency receiving capability and crisis stabilization beds. Individuals who are experiencing behavioral health crises are provided assessment, short-term crisis counseling, support services and referrals for ongoing care. Staffing includes physicians, registered nurses, licensed clinicians and other behavioral health professionals to provide interventions designed to de-escalate crisis situations and prevent out-of-community treatment or hospitalization.

If individuals need a higher level of care, the attached crisis stabilization unit will allow for admissions for short-term residential treatment, officials say.

The Region Four office is one of six administrative field offices in the DBHDD system. The region includes the Baker, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Calhoun, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Lanier, Lee, Thomas, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner and Worth counties.

The latest development comes on the heels of a recent announcement from the DBHDD that Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville would be shuttered on Dec. 31, impacting roughly 600 jobs.