It’s been just over a year since the crisis center opened its doors. Serving over 600 "unique individuals," Executive Director Matt Hardin says the center made an immediate impact on the community.
"We opened, I think, noon on April 15 and we had our first client at noon on April 15," he said. "I think that was a good indicator that we were really needed in the community."
Before the center opened, people "in crisis" had two options; the hospital or the jail. Hardin says being an alternative makes them vital to the community.
"For somebody that’s experiencing some elevated stress, anxiety, especially in this time where we see maybe a little more depression and anxiety and those types of things because of the situation going on now, we have a third option this is maybe less severe," Hardin explained.
When the state’s stay-home order was issued, the center’s numbers saw a dip. Recently, Hardin says they’ve be on the rise.
The center has adjusted to safely serve the community. In common areas, couches have been swapped for individual chairs and beds spaced out to keep six feet of distance between people.
In these trying times, Hardin says it’s important for the community to know there’s still a safe place they can go.
"We don’t really define crisis," he said. "It has to be mental health or substance use, but there’s not really a hard line. And so with COVID happening, we can really help a wide range of individuals," he said.
"If COVID is a stressor and it’s stressing them out, hey, we can help them out just like we can anybody else."
Through community outreach efforts, Hardin has also focused on eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental health and substance use.
"It reaches every single class, so opening that up to the entire public, I think is doing really, really well."
When things calm down, Hardin said he plans to continue working to expand the center’s reach outside of Bannock County and into the surrounding counties.
Hardin also expressed thanks to the law enforcement and medical communities for referring clients, as reducing the stress on them is the center's goal.