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'We're prepping them to release from our facility, they're breaking down in tears'

Creating a safer community and breaking the cycle of crime is the goal of Lane County public safety agencies. Mental health services are critical to that outcome. The latest piece of the service puzzle opened last year: the new Hourglass Community Crisis Center, open now for 1 year. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Creating a safer community and breaking the cycle of crime is the goal of Lane County public safety agencies.

Mental health services are critical to that outcome.

The latest piece of the service puzzle opened last year: the new Hourglass Community Crisis Center, open now for 1 year.

The center was developed as a partnership between ColumbiaCare and Lane County to address the gap in immediate crisis services in the mental health continuum of care.

It's a free, 24-hour center for people in short-term mental health crisis situations.

"And a crisis can be anything from you know, severe anxiety, long term depression that may turn into a psychosis," said Randy Anderson, the center's executive director.

Referrals come from existing service partners like CAHOOTS, as well as walk-ins and people about to be released from the Lane County Jail with no exit plan.

"We're prepping them to release from our facility, they're breaking down in tears," said Captain Dan Buchwald, the Lane County jail commander. "They have no place to go."

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Hourglass has a variety of ways to help them," said Sarah Salisbury with Lane County Health Department. "Lockers, laundry facilities, showers to help people really feel respected."

Peer support specialist Delilah Kennedy knows what folks are facing on the streets from past experience.

"I found myself mixed in with the criminal justice system. I found myself homeless," she said. "It is because of those experiences that I have been blessed to work in this field."

Kennedy works with clients in the county jail - and has referred many of them to Hourglass.

"They've come back with a little more light in their heart," she said.

"And realize that there is somebody that going to help them," added Buchwald, the jail commander.

"The basic human rights of food and a bed," Kennedy said, "can really set a person up for success."

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