Mar. 13, 2023 4:30p
(WGTD)---Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave unveiled plans to build a $25 million center to put mental health and substance abuse services under one roof.
Speaking to a crowd that gathered under a heated tent on the site of the center, Delagrave noted that such a facility has been a long-held dream of his. Before he became county executive, Delagrave led the county's human services department.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to get help to more people who are in need. "It is our belief and goal that this center will be a positive step toward eliminating the negative stigma surrounding mental health while proactively serving those in need regardless of the ability to pay," he said.
The structure will be built just west of the county's complex on Taylor Ave. that includes workforce development services. The site formerly housed a lumber company, and at one point was the county's first choice for a new youth detention and treatment center. County officials ultimately decided to build that facility near Batten Airport.
The consolidated mental health service building will be financed with federal COVID relief dollars and from the county's share of opioid lawsuit settlement funds, according to Delagrave.
In his announcement, Delagrave noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers, and that mental health problems affect, either directly or indirectly, one out of three county residents. In addition, 129 people died of drug overdose deaths in the county over the past three years. "We alone can not solve these issues. However we can be part of the solution and champion and lead ways to systematic changes in mental health service delivery," he said.
Racine County Sheriff's Dept. Capt. Cary Madrigal, filling in for Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, said the department fully supports the initiative in that it'll take some of the burden off of the criminal justice system. "We believe that investing in mental health services is a critical step in promoting safety and well-being," she said.
Also speaking was former Racine County Executive and current Town of Norway board chair Jean Jacobson. She noted that her daughter, a City of Racine police officer who died in a non-work related traffic accident, often spoke of her frustrations in trying to get mental health services to people who were caught up in the criminal justice system. "Where can they go? Why isn't somebody helping them," Jacobson said her daughter would ask.
The new center will consolidate services currently provided in at least three locations, and will include 10 beds for inpatient mental health services.
The facility is expected to open in late 2024.