CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Monarch had a ribbon cutting for North Carolina's first Youth Crisis Center on Wednesday. It is located in the University City Area. Many people showed up to see the brand new facility and learn what it will mean for thousands of kids.
The facility is for kids between the ages of 6 and 17 years old who suffer from a mental crisis. A crisis could include kids wanting to harm others and themselves, feeling helpless, being bullied or other traumatic experiences. Monarch officials say this facility is needed to give the thousands of kids in this area the help they need.
"26,000 children just in our immediate area will be eligible for this service today," Monarch Executive Vice President/Chief Development Officer Blake Martin said. "If we can find them all and scoop them up put them in this building wouldn't that be amazing. That's what we have ahead of us."
Martin says the children will be examined to see if they qualify for this program. He says kids dealing with lots of issues will be able to get the services needed. He added the center will not be able to offer support to all who walk through the doors.
"If they require medical care then we call our partners at one of our hospitals and refer them over to the hospital. We are not equipped to manage medical physical needs," Martin said.
The center will be open seven days a week and 24 hours a day. The center is a place for kids to get stabilized. It's a 16 bed facility that will allow kids to stay for a few days. It is a secure building with passes needed to get through doors and surveillance cameras everywhere keeping an eye of the patients.
Parents say this center will make a difference. Gwen Bartley has a two kids who deal with mental illness. She says she wished this center was open when she was dealing with her kids. She had to take her son to a facility that was more than two hours away to get treatment. The mother also says when her son had a crisis, she had to take him to a hospital that is specifically for mental patients.
"A little bit in a hospital setting. It's a little bit criminal looking. It is lock down facilities. This is more of a environment where kids can relax and families can feel a little more comfortable," Parent Gwen Bartley said.
The SECU Youth Crisis Center costs several million dollars. Private, state and federal dollars were all used to make the building a reality. State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) chipped in $750,000 and was granted the naming rights for the facility.
The center started helping patients back in December and so far more than a dozen kids have received assistance.
Insurance is used for the services but Monarch says it will help anybody who needs it.
People who toured the facility say they will now talk to state leaders to see if more money can be found so other facilities can open up in other parts of North Carolina.