Milwaukee County to Open New Mental Health Emergency Center

The Mental Health Emergency Center will replace the current behavior health center that will close in early September.

By HFT Staff
August 22, 2022

The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services and Behavioral Health Services announced the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex and Psychiatric Crisis Services will permanently close its doors Sept. 9, transitioning services to the new Mental Health Emergency Center, Granite Hills Hospital and other community-based services. 

The highly anticipated transition to the Mental Health Emergency Center marks the next phase in the redesign of Milwaukee County’s behavioral health system, which began more than a decade ago. Significant developments include the newly opened Granite Hills Hospital and transitioning services to community partnerships, located in neighborhoods with the greatest need. This new model creates easier access to care, the expansion of crisis services and now the Mental Health Emergency Center, opening Sept. 6, a public-private partnership between Milwaukee County and the area’s four health systems – Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert Health. 

Over the past 10 years, the redesign has reached many milestones, including: 

  • Act 203 and the creation of the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board in 2014 
  • Partnership with the Milwaukee Police Department to create Crisis Assessment Response Teams to bring psychiatric crisis services to people in the community 
  • Creation of the Crisis Mobile Teams, a non-police mobile response 
  • Development of Team Connect, which provides timely follow-up services for individuals discharged from the hospital 
  • Establishment of crisis resource centers in 2007 leading to a total of 37 beds for three locations 

The Mental Health Complex is out of date, impacting service and patients. Recognition of this spurred BHS to begin reimagining the county’s behavioral health system in 2010, with input from national experts and residents. In 2020, Behavioral Health Services launched an inclusive series of community conversations to shed light on challenges Milwaukee residents faced accessing behavioral health services. Overwhelmingly, residents and those with lived experience stated they wanted services closer to where they live. The feedback also pinpointed gaps and barriers across behavioral health programs and services that are being addressed with the redesign.  

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