Prince George's Opens Facility to Address Mental Health Desert

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Prince George’s County is opening a mental health pavilion that will provide services starting as young as 4 through adult age.

The county is considered a mental health desert, with half of its adult admissions going to other jurisdictions for care.

“Our community is in crisis, and we are in deep pain,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said. 

The pandemic exacerbated the lack of mental health care in the county.

“We know from the community health needs assessment in Prince George’s County, this is the No. 1 need,” Luminis Health CEO Tori Bayless said. 

“We have decided somehow as a society that we care for people who are suffering from mental illness and addiction in places where they can’t even be healed,” Alsobrooks said.

The county cut the ribbon on a first-of-its-kind behavioral health hospital at Luminis Health Doctors Medical Center in Lanham Tuesday. The facility was made possible through a $20 million grant approved by voters to reallocate funding from a police training facility. The decision eases a burden for the entire Washington region.

“We have more than half of the 1,900 adult admissions from Prince George’s County were admitted to hospitals outside of Prince George’s County,” Alsobrooks said.

The facility will include therapy for children in crisis and counseling for their parents. There’s also walk-in urgent care for non-emergency behavioral health concerns, psychiatric day treatment, eight-bed addiction residential services, and, eventually, a 16-bed inpatient psychiatric ward. The county executive vows the facility won’t be the last.

“A person with the broken leg, well then we all know what needs to happen there,” Alsobrooks said. “We give accommodations, we give grace to that person, but what happens to a person whose mind is injured who the world can’t see?”

The facility’s expected to start taking patients next month. The second-floor inpatient beds are still under construction and expected to be available later this year.

On any given day, 70% of the people arrested in Prince George’s County are intoxicated. A third of them are on medication to manage mental health needs, according to the county executive. The hope is the new facility offers options for treatment and also lifts the burden from emergency rooms. 

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