Dr. Wanda Figueroa, CEO/Director of RiverValley Behavioral Health, wants to destigmatize mental health issues and make services more accessible with the purchase of The Crowne building downtown.
The purchase marks a greater push for the organization to become more integrated into the community. With proximity to the Judicial Center and pedestrian traffic downtown, the organization hopes to create a space where people can enter and get the services they need.
Figueroa said just having a location in one of the city’s busiest neighborhoods helps spark the conversation about mental health.
“It is very important to open access, and sometimes the obstacles can be transport, that’s why we have different locations [across town]”, Figueroa said. “We want to be close to people when they pass by and they say ‘It’s a nice place, I could have a coffee [next door] and then I could come here.
On the first floor, Figueroa plans to have two main functions – a wellness library and a space for people to register for classes and services.
The library would be filled with books on relationship issues, mental health, emotional help, effective parenting, and more. All books in the library could be borrowed free of charge by members of the community.
“The Crowne Building is such a recognizable part of the city’s history that [people] could go to this place because it is a calm, friendly and peaceful place where they can have access to books, videos on all matters related to personal growth and well-being,” said Figueroa.
The rest of the floor would have professionals trained under a service connector to provide whatever assistance the customer might need, whether it be a self-referral or appointment by the court. The client could enter the building and undergo mental health first aid training or suicide prevention training.
Regarding the latter, she hopes to focus on the high suicide rates among farmers, especially with the heavily agricultural local community.
RVBH will try to set up an area for classes of around 30-40 people on the second floor and install an elevator to ensure that the entire facility is accessible to people with disabilities.
A majority of the services offered would be free.
They still want to keep some of the iconic aspects of the building after the renovations, which will begin soon. All the while, they’re still renovating their Walnut Street location, which should be finished in a year, Figueroa said.
Figueroa said the environment, setting and atmosphere of the venue is like a client’s second therapist.
“We want people when they walk through our doors to feel respected that we respect them enough to invest in something like them,” Figueroa said. “We want to create a therapeutic and peaceful place in each of [our spaces]. This is something that is a priority for us. »