Despite the Metro Council rejecting the tax to build and operate it, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation is still moving forward with plans for a mental health crisis center.
BRAF will unveil the design draft for the mental health center at 1 p.m. on April 27 at the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard. Politicians, prison officials and BRAF executives have all called on Baton Rouge to decriminalize mental illness, as many homeless and mentally ill people in the city have nowhere to go for treatment and instead land in jail.
The mentally ill used to go to a specialized mental health emergency unit at Earl K. Long Medical Center in north Baton Rouge before the hospital closed in April 2013.
The crisis center would have several different units for treating mental illness. Among them are a medical detoxification unit, a medical stabilization unit, a sobering beds unit, a peer-run drop-in unit, and a recovery and empowerment center with a triage and assessment unit.
Case managers and liaisons would set up shop in the mental health center. Along with them, the center would have several different response teams who specialize in treating mental illness.
They would include a child and adolescent response team, an adult outreach team, a Baton Rouge behavioral health team and a crisis intervention team made up of law enforcement officers.
The center was part of a $335 million public safety tax plan proposal that Mayor-President Kip Holden unveiled in January. The proposal included more than $16 million from sales taxes to build the mental health center and an additional .5 mill property tax to operate the center.
The Metro Council rejected sending the tax plan to voters, with many of them saying they were not convinced that taxes were the best way to pay for the improvements. Most Metro Council members did acknowledge that Baton Rouge needed a mental health facility, but questioned the funding source.
Since then, BRAF has continued to fully develop plans for a mental health center though a new funding source has not yet been identified.