The Iowa City Mental Health Center serves more than 1,000 people in its first year

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) – Within just a year of its opening, the GuideLink Center in Johnson County has been able to bring together the community and medicine-based models involved in treating mental health, addiction and brain health.

“We provide 24/7 mental health and substance use services and instant access to these services,” said Executive Director Abbey Ferenzi.

In less than 365 days, she and the rest of the GuideLink team have seen the center grow in more ways than one.

“We initially only took recommendations from local law enforcement and the Mobile Crisis Team. But as of July 1, we have a 24-hour walk-in service open,” Ferenzi said.

As it hit the six-month mark, it opened a new extension to the center – the sobering unit.

“This could be a prison alternative for local law enforcement. When they come across someone who doesn’t actually need jail, they don’t necessarily think they need a public intox ticket, but they do need a safe place to be. Before, it was either the ER or nowhere,” Ferenzi said.

The number of customers reached has also increased.

“We started with 30, 40, 50 walk-ins in July and August. We went from 68 walk-ins to 109 walk-ins from December to January,” Ferenzi said.

And they are already planning for that number to grow even further next year.

“In this last year we have served over 1,000 people and taken in almost 900,” said Ferenzi. “I hope that we can increase that by 50 percent next year.”

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