Mental health and substance abuse issues have been on the rise in recent months due to the pandemic, and the opening of Linn County's new mental health access center coincided with that increase.

The center, located at 501 13th St. NW is open to individuals in nine counties. Residents experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues in Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, and Linn counties are served at the facility.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette announces that starting next Monday, April 26 the center is opening for walk-in hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Sometime after that, they hope to open for 24/7 access, but are currently working to "build capacity". They also currently only have one employee,

The ribbon-cutting took place back in March for the facility, which is to serve as an alternative to take those patients with mental health or substance abuse crises somewhere other than the ER or jail. The 13th St. facility cannot assist minors or those with immediate medical-related needs or those showing signs of violent behavior upon arrival.

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Services offered at the Linn County Mental Health Access Center include crisis triage and counseling through Foundation 2, crisis stabilization through the Penn Center, mental health evaluations, prescriber appointments and peer support through AbbeHealth.

Substance use disorder patient support through the Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon, with clinical support on call.

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