The North Alabama Mental Health Coalition is made up of mental health stakeholders who collaborate to share knowledge, abilities and resources to help provide effective, efficient and reliable mental health services to consumers of all ages in North Alabama, so they may achieve wellness through awareness, advocacy prevention, and appropriate care.
In 2015, St. Vincent de Paul's Voice of the Poor Committee formed the North Alabama Mental Health Coalition (NAMHC) for the purpose of improving the plight of the seriously mentally ill (SMI), many of whom were homeless or in jail. NAMHC brought together stakeholders from the Madison County Sheriff's Department, City of Huntsville, and City of Madison Police Departments, HEMSI, Wellstone, city and county officials, probate judges, and psychiatrists. Over the years, the Coalition has grown to include other mental health agencies, social service agencies and community leaders.
We work to help the people providing services connect with the people who need them. Come connect with people in new ways.
Over the years, the Coalition has grown to include other mental health agencies, social service agencies and numerous other community leaders.
Our community is full of people who want to help.
NAMHC has been instrumental in making great strides to mental health in North Alabama.
In addition to getting the County and City to each fund a mental health case worker for the Madison County Jail, SVdP/NAMHC with the help of a grant from the Lowe Foundation, was able to open a 10-bed Jail Diversion Unit at Wellstone.
Over the years, Law Enforcement has played a major role in improving the plight of the SMI in North Alabama. In 2018, Huntsville Police Department won a Grant from the Bureau of Justice/Nalor Program, one of only four such grants awarded in the Nation, to train its Police Officers in Crisis Intervention (CIT). The Bureau of Justice Valor application originated from NAMHC.
Over 50 officers have been trained, and the program continues to expand. CIT Officers are already making a difference in the care and treatment of the seriously mentally ill. NAMHC is very proud and thankful for the partnership we have with Law Enforcement.
In early 2019 probate judges, police chiefs, and sheriffs across North Alabama signed a petition, which NAMHC originated, asking North Alabama legislators to build a mental health diversion/crisis center in North Alabama.
On October 29, 2020, Gov. Ivey announced that Huntsville would be awarded one of only three new Adult Crisis Centers in the State of Alabama. This is a major achievement that we have striven for over the last several years. Wellstone, formerly Madison County Mental Health Center, runs the center. The Adult Crisis Center has a total of 39 beds, and a telehealth triage unit staffed 24/7 to handle calls from Law Enforcement, hospitals, etc. Many thanks to Jeremy Blair and his staff at Wellstone for putting together the proposal to the State that won Huntsville the place for an Adult Crisis Center.
The Adult Crisis Center is now open at Wellstone Behavioral Health here in Huntsville. However, the Crisis Center serves adults only, and there are no (zero) beds for SMI and traumatized children in Madison County. Many parents and children are having to be sent hundreds of miles from Huntsville to find a bed for inpatient treatment. So, NAMHC convened a pediatric beds subcommittee. One member of the subcommittee was National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC) CEO Chris Newlin who suggested that maybe Huntsville Hospital's Decatur West could expand, since they were already a Pediatric Mental Health facility.
So, in early 2022 we visited with Mr. Jeff Samz (CEO of HH). He in turn sent us to see Amy Gillott at HH's Decatur West, who figured out how to add sixteen more beds to her pediatric unit. That Pediatric Mental Health Unit has now grown as of August 2023 to 48 beds, staffed and operational.
NAMHC has also played a part in Wellstone's bid to get the Alabama legislature to add a pediatric wing to the new crisis center in Huntsville. Ground breaking has occurred on a 22-bed unit.
Currently, NAMHC/SVDP, on an individual case basis, also helps pay for INTAKE, THERAPY, PSYCHIATRIC, AND MEDICINE costs for the SMI patients who seek help from Wellstone and have no insurance or Medicaid/Medicare benefits.
Help is also given, on an individual case basis, to pay rent and utility bills for SMI when needed.
The History of NAMHC is made up of so many in our community that have, and are, making a difference. We continue to meet, identify gaps in the system, and work towards solutions.
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