KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will soon be home to a crisis stabilization unit, the first of its kind in the state. The unit, set to open in early 2022, will provide behavioral health treatment including therapy, medication and other services to help them work through their crisis.

The unit is made possible thanks to a $5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency to the McNabb Center. The McNabb Center, a longtime provider of mental health services in East Tennessee, is partnering with Children’s Hospital to create the CSU.

“Unfortunately, visits to our Emergency Department for depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation have escalated to alarming proportions, with behavioral health visits growing by more than 60% since 2020 to more than 1,500 annual visits,” said Matt Schaefer, Children’s Hospital president and CEO. “At the same time, there are too few pediatric mental health providers to meet the growing need; this investment in a crisis continuum of care looks to reverse these trends.”

The goal is to provide a safe place to address the needs of children facing a mental health crisis while diverting the child from psychiatric hospitalization. Families will be able to access CSU services through the emergency department or through a mobile crisis unit.

Once a child is stabilized, they may receive intensive community-based treatment through the McNabb Center.

“This CSU will help strengthen families who are dealing with a crisis situation and provide the best
opportunity to keep those families together,” said Jerry Vagnier, McNabb Center CEO. “Helping our region’s children address acute mental health challenges, and providing them with extended care following their moment of crisis, will give families the support they need as they navigate these challenges.”

“Investing in the behavioral and mental health needs of our children is vital,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey. “As these children receive the necessary supports through this program, they will be set up for lifelong success, health and wellbeing as they grow into adulthood.”