Access Centers for Mental Health


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The mental health crisis is taking a toll on hospitals across the U.S., causing overcrowding in emergency departments, straining staff resources, and delaying crucial care for those in urgent need. In some communities, patients are held for months in the emergency room as they await psychiatric beds. Now, some hospitals are confronting this crisis head-on with an innovative solution.

It’s called a Behavioral Health Access Center, and it’s revolutionizing mental health care at Intermountain Health. Think of it as a specialized emergency department for mental health issues. They’re open 24/7, staffed by a team of psychiatric nurses, mental health crisis counselors, and psychiatrists. And they offer a crucial 23-hour stabilization period to aid patients in crisis. And they do it at a third of the cost of an emergency department visit.

“If they’re not meeting a medical emergency, it diverts them to a location where they can be seen at the right place, at the right time, by the right type of provider,” explains Clint Thurgood, LCSW at Intermountain Health.

(Read Full Interview)

Hospitals like Intermountain Health are seeing remarkable results. The number of mental health crisis patients, system wide, went from 18,000 in 2017 to 24,000 in 2020, with the behavioral health access center treating  more than 80 percent of those patients.

Behavioral access centers have saved some hospitals 12 million dollars and reduced the rate of patients returning for mental health care.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Producer; Kirk Manson,  Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: One in every five adults experiences a severe mental illness. Approximately nine-point-five percent of adults aged 18 and older will suffer from a depressive illness. Many psychiatric patients have to wait for months at a time before receiving mental health care. Some hospitals across the United States are now providing behavioral health access centers. They are vital to the modern healthcare system and pivotal in addressing the growing mental health crisis. These centers serve as gateways to essential mental health services, offering a range of resources and support to individuals seeking help for various mental and emotional challenges.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing mental health conditions is a multifaceted process that requires a careful and comprehensive approach. Mental health diagnoses are crucial for individuals seeking treatment and support, as they pave the way for appropriate interventions and care. To determine a diagnosis, a professional may suggest a physical examination to rule out physical problems that may be causing symptoms, lab tests, and a psychological exam. During a psych evaluation, a doctor or mental health professional talks to you about your symptoms and behavioral patterns; you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire to help identify these feelings.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: New AI-powered tools have been multiplying regarding mental health treatment. These AI tools can help patients practice CBT strategies that can help to ease their symptoms. There are now also smartphone apps that can analyze speech patterns that serve as warning signs of emotional distress. AI and cellphone apps are promising to power a new generation of teletherapy. In June of 2020, the FDA also approved the first-ever prescription video game. It is a sound treatment for children aged eight to 12 suffering from ADHD. This game challenges young patients to multitask through a gaming environment simultaneously.



Erin Goff                                  Brad Gillman       

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Clint Thurgood, LCSW

Read the entire Q&A