The long-awaited opening of the Guilford County behavioral health center – the centerpiece of a vastly overhauled mental health delivery system for county residents – is set for this spring and one of the key decisions for the future of that project has now been made. 

Former Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips, who was one of the key architects behind the new behavioral health center and a vastly new mental health system model, has been selected to chair the committee that will oversee the implementation of the model and the operation of the facility.

The effort to build the new Guilford County Behavioral health center, and build a wholistic “cutting edge” service model around it, was ultimately the product of many key area players from Cone Health officials to Guilford County staff and commissioners to the Sandhills Center executive team. 

Sandhills is a multi-county management entity that Guilford County pays to oversee most of the county’s mental health and substance abuse services.

 The new county initiative is in large part the result of the vision of Phillips, who worked behind the scenes for over two years to help bring all the players together. That’s no doubt one reason they selected him to be chairman.

The county’s new mental health campus, which will feature a building for adult behavioral health services and one for children’s behavioral services as well, is being built at a lot on Third Street very close to Guilford County’s Health and Human Services building on Maple Street.

In 2020, Phillips decided not to run again to keep the District 5 Guilford County Commissioners seat that he held for eight years.  However, it’s crystal clear now that he’ll continue to be involved with county operations at least in regard to mental health.

Phillips said this week that no exact opening date has been determined, but it should be right around the corner.

“I don’t think there’s a firm opening date yet, but I’m hearing April,” Phillips said.

He added that he would know a little more after an update in the first week of February from the Samet Corp. project managers who are overseeing the construction.

“It’s been a long time coming, but we’re definitively on the home stretch,” he said.

Phillips also said it was a thrill to be working with such a dedicated group to get the center open and operational.

“I’m honored to have been asked by the other members of this dream team to serve as their chair during such a pivotal time in the project’s development,” Phillips said.   “Our citizens have waited a long time – but we’re very close to beginning a new and exciting era in behavioral healthcare in Guilford County.”