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'It's Really About the Whole Person.' New Crisis Assessment Center Connects People and Resources

by on December 02, 2019 1:33 PM

Centre County's new 24-hour, walk-in mental health crisis assessment center will soon be open to the public, offering anyone in need the opportunity to connect with support, services and resources.

The Center for Community Resources, 2100 E. College Ave., could open as early as the end of this week, pending final code inspection, said program director Shannon Quick.

"Our vision for this service is really to transform crisis services into something that is a welcoming, safe environment for people, to break down those barriers that individuals who contact crisis are going into the hospital," Quick said. "We just really want people to utilize the space, feel comfortable coming here and feel that this is a great place to come to get resources..."

Centre County commissioners in August approved a contract for $694,981 with Center for Community Resources to set up and operate the center. Originally based in Butler County, CCR has been a licensed crisis service provider since 2003 and has provided similar services in counties across the state.

The goal is to help each person who comes in feel comfortable and assist them with their individual needs. 

At least two trained counselors will be on site at all times. The center includes a phone assessment office, interview rooms, a kitchenette, lending library and access to online resources.

"What we want to offer is a warm safe place for people to come in and get what they need — whether that’s mental health services, whether that’s a cup of soup," said program manager Tammy Harrington. "If they haven’t eaten that day, maybe that’s their crisis or the tipping point for their crisis."

For those who come to the center, there's no pressure to talk and they can stay as long as they need. There is also no charge, as the center is funded by managed care, human services block grant money and the county budget.

"When a person walks in here if they think they have a co-pay, that’s not part of what this is about. It’s about the support they need in the moment, and one less stressor if they would have a feeling about that," said Natalie Corman, Centre County director of Mental Health/ Intellectual Disability/Early Intervention. "And then we’re able to provide them the next steps."

When someone arrives, a counselor will greet them, offer them a snack or drink and give them the opportunity to talk when they feel comfortable.

"We’ll sit down with them if they want to sit down with us and just let them talk and figure out where to go from there. It’s not a rush," Harrington said. "We have all the time in the world to give to someone in need."

Program manager Tammy Harrington, left, and program director Shannon Quick, center, discussed the new Center for Community Resources on Dec. 3, 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

Counselors will be able to connect individuals with not only mental health resources and next steps, but also a variety of services and support such as housing programs, child care assistance, food banks, the state COMPASS human services programs, and even applying for discounted YMCA memberships.

Quick said the idea is that a multitude of factors could contribute to a crisis.

"Crisis doesn’t happen in a vacuum... Maybe there’s a lot of different stressors or variables that go into how someone elevates to a crisis state and they need that assistance," she said. "It’s really about the whole person and not just one sliver of that person’s life that could fall into that mental health category, but all of it. We really want our community to be well in all sorts of aspects. Center for Community Resources is about connecting people and that’s what we will do."

Community partners in the Centre County offices of adult services and mental health/intellectual disabilities, Housing Transitions and Strawberry Fields can meet with clients at the center. Harrington added numerous community organizations have provided counselor training over the past month.

The center's counselors will help set up necessary appointments and follow up with individuals after they've left.

"When you’re struggling with depression, navigating that system can be really difficult," Quick said. "So here’s a solid place you can come and we’ll help you navigate and help you get connected."

All county law enforcement agencies also will have a separate phone number they can call to connect with a counselor immediately.

"We wanted to make sure our police have direct access to a counselor," Quick said. "That’s really to help police decrease time in the field. If they’re responding to a mental health emergency or through [crisis intervention] they can immediately talk to a counselor and coordinate if they’re going to bring someone here to receive an assessment."

An assessment room in the new Center for Community Resources. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

The center is open all day, every day to anyone of any age who feels the need some help. Family members of someone experiencing crisis also are welcome to come in to speak with someone.

Commissioner Steve Dershem said he is happy to see a new resource added to the county's mental health services.

"Primarily I think what we’re very grateful for is another resource for the community that will help not only the folks that are in crisis but their families as well," he said. "It’s an opportunity for them to seek help in a very uninvasive environment, and I think this will be well-used and well-received by everyone in the community."

Commissioner Mark Higgins noted the accessibility of the location between State College and Bellefonte. He added that during the commissioners' special meeting on mental health services in June, many people offered comments expressing the need for a new resource.

"I think this is one of the things people were talking about," Higgins said. "We’d like something a little non-traditional, some place they could just go and very quickly receive some level of service."

Corman said that many in the local community and beyond are excited for the center to open.

"From the county’s perspective, this has been talked about for a long time and to see it come to fruition is a great thing," she said. "There’s a lot of people across the area that are excited for this to come and to see it. It is larger than even just our community in terms of the excitement people have about bringing this kind of unique service to our area."

Photo Gallery - Centre for Community Resources

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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