As part of The Mental Health Action Plan the birth of the Triage Center began through many assessments of County efforts to improve the health needs of the community.
In February of 2014, the McLean County Board Executive Committee convened two interagency, public and private workgroups, one to identify community mental health needs and one to identify best practices. These workgroups were challenged to plan, create, and begin coordinating and evaluating mental health services within the Community. The goals of these workgroups included, 1) Improve the general understanding of mental illnesses and emotional disturbances; 2) assess the state of the mental health care system in McLean County, focusing on identifying the gaps between services provided and community needs in both urban and rural areas; 3) Identify and review best practices and determine the feasibility of implementation in McLean County; and 4) develop strategies to maintain dialogue among community leaders regarding mental health.
In March of 2014, the Bloomington-Normal/McLean County Economic Development Council brought Community leaders together, traveling to Washington, DC to meet with legislators and staff members from the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and the Department of Justice to discuss the community’s challenges with mental health both inside and outside the criminal justice system. In June 2014, the two community mental health advisory groups provided their reports to the County Board. These reports identified both mental health needs within the community, as well as best practices.
Since 2014 and the subsequent approval by the McLean County Board of the Mental Health Action Plan in 2015, many efforts led to the culmination of the Triage Center. A group of community leaders toured a similar center in Cook County; others were invited to the SAMHSA Gains Center Best Practices Implementation Academy in 2018 and learned from other jurisdictions; and, much research has been done in the interim. In Fall 2018, a collaborative grant application was submitted to Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Mental Health, which included the core concepts for what is now the Triage Center. While implementation of that grant was not possible at the time, McLean County remained dedicated to having a facility where individuals could receive assessment, intervention, and linkage to resources in-person 24 hours per day for their behavioral health needs.
The McLean County Triage Center officially opened their doors to the public on March 16, 2020.