SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Burrell Behavioral Health’s Behavioral Crisis Center has helped nearly 1,500 people since it opened a year ago.

Dustin Brown, the vice president of integration for Burrell, said anyone in need of mental or substance abuse care can come in at any time, day or night.

“The Behavioral Crisis Center is a community solution to a community problem,” said Brown.

The Springfield facility was a response to the need for quicker access to mental health and substance issues in Springfield.

The unit was a community effort, starting as an idea from Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

“People are walking in, or being referred by family and friends to the behavioral crisis center, not coming in contact with law enforcement so I think we’re starting to see that positive effect of us not being engaged with anyone,” said Williams. “And us not having to take them there and have them evaluated I think that’s a benefit not only to the PD but to the community as a whole.”

The facility and the work it does means a lot to Brown.

“Hearing someone say these people and this center saved my life,” said Brown. “It impacts me a great deal every day.”

Williams said over 100 people a month are going through the Center, which has been a big help to the Police Department.

“These are people with mental health and/or substance abuse issues that would otherwise be seen in the emergency room at one of our local hospitals, or we’d encounter and probably be taken to jail.”

Brown said the types of crisis are different for each patient that comes to the Crisis Center.

“It could be something that recently just happened to that individual that they are having a hard time with, it could be something that’s been building over years,” said Brown.

People, according to Williams, are being diverted from jail “who don’t really need to go there.”

The Center is also having a positive impact on officers. Williams said it takes officers 20 minutes to take someone to the crisis center while taking someone to the emergency room took an average of three hours.

“We are looking at a minimum of two and a half hours of productive officer time where they are out in the community doing the things they really need to be doing,” said Williams.

Another benefit of the Crisis Center is being a place family and friends can call to help their loved one instead of calling the police.

“We are starting to see the positive effect of us not being engaged with anyone.” said Williams. “Us not having to take them there and have them evaluated. I think that is a benefit not only to the Police Department, but to the community as a whole.”

Things are going so well that there is talk about expanding the Crisis Center.

“There is room for expansion, so we have some plans involving development about how we can increase space,” said Williams. “And address the needs of the community as I know they are going to grow.”

Both hospitals in Springfield, Mercy and CoxHealth, also refer patients to the facility when needed.

You can take a virtual tour of the facility online. Anyone in need of the Crisis Center’s services can walk into the building on 800 S. Park Ave. or call 417-893-7735.