Newport’s new mental health urgent care program to open in early summer

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NEWPORT — Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) has acquired a property on Lakemont Road for the establishment of their Mental Health Urgent Care Program, named The Front Porch. This specialized facility will offer an alternative to emergency departments for individuals in the Northeast Kingdom experiencing suicidal ideation or mental health distress.

The initiative to create a 24/7 mental health facility began years ago, spearheaded by Betty and Chris Barrett of Newport City. Their personal experiences with suicide and mental health challenges fueled their advocacy for a therapeutic environment with professional supports.

Their efforts, in collaboration with NKHS and Executive Director Kelsey Stavseth, led to widespread community support, drawing attention from local legislators, law enforcement, healthcare facilities, and the Governor’s office.

In 2023, the program received funding in Governor Scott’s budget, enabling NKHS to secure the Lakemont property.

The program aims to reduce emergency department visits for mental health concerns by providing a welcoming, voluntary, and safe community-based environment. It will offer an alternative for law enforcement and first responders handling mental health crises, and will be available for walk-in support. The facility will focus on assessing and supporting individuals in distress, thereby alleviating pressure on other service providers.

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Renovation efforts are underway to create a therapeutic space, with plans to hire staff and develop comprehensive programming. NKHS anticipates an early summer opening for the facility.

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