GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Behavioral Health Center is a one-stop-shop for people looking for help in treating mental health and substance abuse.

In 2021, the 60,000-square-foot facility became the first of its kind in the state and now in Guilford County. it’s filled with several beds for inpatient care, comfortable living room space for support group sessions, an on-site pharmacy and outdoor space for fresh air.

“There are no barriers. No bars. It’s all open. People are available. The front desk is available, and it’s how you change the culture,” said Dr. Archana Kumar, medical director for Behavioral Health Services for Cone Health.

Dr. Kumar said the center will provide timely access to mental health services for children, teens and adults in a mental health crisis.

“It’s great to have something which helps people no matter what your payer source is, so whether you’re insured or under insure, now you have a place which provides services for everyone,” Kumar said.

The program is designed for those who need urgent behavioral health or substance use treatment and are not experiencing a medical crisis that would typically require an emergency room visit.

It’s the same comfort that encouraged Allison Barnes to find help when she needed it most.

“That is highly beneficial, especially for people who don’t have the money to go and see the therapist or choose who they want to see. When you don’t have transportation, and you don’t have the fund and things like that, these are deterrents to getting the mental help that you need,” Barnes said.

Barnes entered the program as an outpatient to help her through her ongoing battle with suicidal thoughts.

“Suicidal ideation was getting the better of me, and I knew before I did something drastic that I needed to take the steps to get help,” Barnes said.

The goal is to help people in one of the two buildings built through a partnership with Cone Health, Sandhills and Guilford County.

Throughout the program, Barnes has seen success in her recovery. She is now working to become a peer support specialist for Mental Health Greensboro and help pass the knowledge on overcoming the stigma of seeking help for mental health.

“A lot of the time, we don’t know we need mental help because of the stigma. We shun it and try to act like it doesn’t affect us, but it affects everyone around and everybody around you,” Barnes said.

Over the next year, Kumar said the facilities are looking to expand into the prison systems.

“About 70-80% of the people in jails have mental health issues. Why are we not treating them, getting them the help rather than putting them in jail?” Kumar said.

In the next few weeks, the facility-based crisis portion of the centers will open to the public for use.

The facility is open 24 hours a day, is located at 931 Third Street in Greensboro and is accessible by public transportation.