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Youth mental health center opens in Waterbury

By Audrey Russo | Channel 3 Eyewitness News

WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) - Children in western Connecticut will have a place to go day or night if they need help with a mental health crisis.

Waterbury city leaders celebrated the ribbon cutting for Wellmore Behavioral Health’s Urgent Crisis Center.

It’s one of four of its kind in the state.

All a parent wants to do is help their hurting child.

Physical pain can be helped at an emergency room but for years, a mental health crisis was treated the same way as a broken bone.

Parents like this mother of three were forced to use sirens and flashing lights for a child suffering emotionally.

“My children all experienced complex trauma,” the mother said. “Because that was all we had.”

Fulfilling part of a 2022 bill signed by the governor, Waterbury celebrated the newest option for kids in need of emergency mental health care.

The Wellmore Behavioral Health Urgent Crisis Center is a walk-in facility, no appointments are needed.

There are no beds because the CEO said the goal is to connect children with services within 24 hours.

Right away you’ll notice a difference from the hustle and bustle of an overburdened emergency room.

“The lights, the color of the room, the furniture, all meant to be more home-like,” said Gary Steck, Wellmore Behavioral Health CEO. “So that they can know this is a loving and caring environment.”

The center technically began operations on June 12, but in the next month or so it’s going to be open 24/7.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this level of care,” said the parent.

The clinic on East Main is one of four urgent crisis centers in the state. The other three are in Hartford, New Haven, and New London.

Their services extend to all the surrounding communities, fighting mental health crises with a new, child-specific approach to care.

“No children should be left out in the cold wondering if there was ever going to be a time that they felt ok again,” the parent said.

Copyright 2023 WFSB. All rights reserved.

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