Tennessee Boosts Children’s Mental Health Crisis Support

Tennessee announces new funding for children's mental health crisis facilities.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has recently disclosed the recipients of grant contracts aimed at establishing two new Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs) and Walk-In Centers specifically designed for children. These centers will be developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Cooperative in Nashville and Alliance Healthcare Services in Memphis, enhancing the available resources for families with children experiencing mental health crises.

CSUs are designed to provide intensive, short-term stabilization for individuals facing a mental health emergency. Similarly, Crisis Walk-In Centers are available around the clock to offer immediate, face-to-face evaluations for those in mental health distress. Importantly, these services are accessible free of charge, regardless of the individual’s insurance status.

This initiative has been supported by Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, which allocated $5 million in new state funding for the creation of these centers. This development follows the establishment of the state’s first CSU/Walk-In Center (WIC) for children in Knoxville, operated by the McNabb Center. This pilot project, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and state infrastructure dollars, highlighted the substantial need for such services and demonstrated positive outcomes for children and families. Data from the Knoxville project indicated that nearly 2,200 children and youth received services at the walk-in center and more than 700 were assisted through the crisis stabilization unit. Impressively, 94% of the children and youth served by the CSU were able to avoid inpatient or residential care, significantly reducing the time families spent in emergency departments.

TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW, expressed gratitude towards Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for their financial support and acknowledged the critical role of community partners in addressing the children’s mental health crisis. This effort is part of Tennessee’s broader commitment to mental health and substance use services for children and youth, with the current fiscal year’s TDMHSAS budget exceeding $52.7 million in dedicated funding. The state’s investment in this area includes a $250 million K-12 Mental Health Trust Fund, expansion of the School-Based Behavioral Health Liaisons program, and funding for the Behavioral Health Safety Net for Uninsured Children, among other initiatives.

For more information on TDMHSAS services for children, youth, young adults, and families, visit [TN.gov/behavioral-health/children](https://tn.gov/behavioral-health/children).

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