Three Critically Needed Mental Health Centers to Open this Year

May 21, 2024 at 01:34 pm by kbarrettalley

By Ansley Franco


Three additional mental health facilities are opening in Alabama this year to provide alternatives for individuals who don’t require admission to a hospital psychiatric unit or infrequent psychiatrist visits.

According to a 2023 Forbes article, Alabama has the third-lowest number of mental health treatment centers nationwide and the second-highest percentage of uninsured adults with mental illness. With this in mind, leaders at Longleaf Recovery and Wellness want to make a positive change in Alabama’s mental health care community.

“I’ve only found one intensive outpatient program in the state for people with commercial insurance,” said John Giannetto, Founder and Chief Development Officer at Longleaf. “Once someone gets stabilized in the psych unit, they have limited options on where to go for aftercare. Because of this, they will often find themselves back in the hospital.

“There are a fair number of options for the lower frequency of care, and there are options for the much higher, intense level of care in, for example, a psych stabilization unit,” Ian Henyon, Chief Operating Officer at Longleaf, said. “But there are no options in that middle tier, which we recognized a few years ago. So that started the idea to open this mental health wellness program.”

Longleaf was founded through a partnership between the Birmingham Recovery Center (BRC), which offers drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs, and LIV Ventures. The purpose is to bring additional outpatient addiction and mental health treatment options to Alabama.


“From day one, our thought was we want to be more than just a treatment center,” Giannetto said. “We want to be part of the Birmingham community. So anybody struggling with mental health issues can call Longleaf and feel like they’re being heard, and taken care of.”

For patients outside Birmingham, BRC works with sober living facilities around the state that provide transportation to the center Monday through Friday. Clients have also commuted to BRC from Tuscaloosa and Huntsville.

To address the shortage of mental health facilities in Alabama, Longleaf is opening new recovery centers in Madison and Baldwin County and a wellness center in Birmingham. The recovery centers will focus on substance use treatment by offering day and evening treatment, medication management and group/individual therapy. The Madison location will also include relapse prevention and withdrawal management services. The Birmingham wellness center will target mental health treatment.

“Madison County and Baldwin County are both growing rapidly,” Colin Harris, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Longleaf, said. “And there was already a need in those communities before this growth was taking place. So there is a significant need in both locations.

“Each facility has a warm and welcoming environment, all the way down to the lighting. Our facilities don’t give off a clinical or sterile vibe. The goal is creating a place where our clients feel safe, that they enjoy being at, a place that makes them feel worthy.”

To become a client, a person would call the number on the website, where someone from the admissions team will ask questions about basic demographics, collect insurance and perform an over-the-phone assessment. Giannetto said there are no hidden costs throughout the entire process at Longleaf. If the individual is a good fit for Longleaf, their goal is to get them into treatment the following day. The center has working relationships with other training facilities, so if Longleaf is not the right fit for a potential client, they will find somewhere that is.

“There’s a big customer service orientation. Making sure that people have all of the information that they need in order to feel comfortable with treatment,” Henyon said. “We want to make sure our staff approaches them in an empathetic manner. Another piece is our medical component. We’ve invested heavily. These pieces are not inexpensive to maintain, but our clients deserve this, and it’s needed.”

The Birmingham Wellness Center is slated opened in April with the Madison County opening scheduled for May 15. Finally, Longleaf Baldwin will open at the beginning of July.

For Henyon, Harris, and Giannetto, this project is driven by passion, stemming from their shared experiences of undergoing treatment in Alabama and other states, where limited in-state options made them seek help elsewhere.

“The options that we have had historically has not been the highest quality. We want to raise the bar not just in Alabama but across the industry as a whole,” Harris said.

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May 2024

May 21, 2024 at 01:33 pm by kbarrettalley

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