A lot of people have read about the major changes coming for the delivery of mental health services in Guilford County.

However, most people probably don’t understand what a huge change it will be.  One group that does have an idea of the monumental task ahead is the Guilford County Behavioral Health Crisis Center Oversight Board, and, on Thursday, March 11, the county announced the meeting schedule for that new board that will oversee the center’s operations.

The board will hold a meeting on Monday, March 15, which will be followed by meetings – all on Mondays – on April 5, April 19, May 3, May 17, June 7, June 21 and July 19.  

The meetings are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and, at least for now, they’ll be held in the county’s large conference room on the third floor of the BB&T building at 201 W. Market St. in downtown Greensboro.

The county’s new mental health center is now under construction and is expected to open this spring, and the discussions at the meetings during this first, formulative year will go a long way toward shaping how mental health services are provided across the county.

There will be a tremendous amount to talk about as the services start up.  The project is a very involved collaborative effort between the county, Cone Health and Sandhills Center Inc. – the entity that handles many administrative duties for Guilford County’s mental health and addiction services.

Former Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips, who was a two-time chairman of the Board of Commissioners, was the chief architect of the mental health services overhaul for the county and he’s now chairman of the new mental health oversight board.  Phillips, along with former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing and other county staff, spent a lot of 2020 working out details of the new center with Cone Health before Lawing left Guilford County government in December.

The county was hoping to get $7 million in help from the state for the new mental health center – since it could serve as a model for other counties in North Carolina – however, a longstanding budget impasse at the state level has meant the county hasn’t seen any of that financial help that was in the budget passed by the Republican legislature and vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The new board’s meeting dates after July – as well as the frequency of meetings – will be re-assessed in July.

 Hopefully, in the near future, COVID-19 will be at a point where the county can go back to welcoming all members of the public in person at all boards and commissions meetings, including the meetings of this new board.  However, for the time being, restrictions will apply.  Those restrictions, as well as options for web-based and phone-based participation in meetings, will be posted on Guilford County’s website.  The information will be searchable under the “Legal Notices” section at https://legalnotices.guilfordcountync.gov/Default.aspx.