State Expanding Crisis Walk-In Centers, Stabilization Units for Mental Health Emergencies

/ April 18, 2023

By Jennifer J. Armstrong

Tennessee’s crisis services continuum is growing!  We’re excited to be adding four new Crisis Stabilization Units and Crisis Walk-In Centers.  With this growth and the success of the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, we thought it would be a great opportunity to share some information and let you know what we have available.

What are Crisis Stabilization Units and Crisis Walk-In Centers? The most important thing to know is they are options other than hospitalization for someone in a mental health crisis. An involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital can be a turning point in a person’s life, but it can also be traumatizing.  If hospitalization isn’t necessary, and we can provide the treatment they need in the community, everyone wins.  With closer connections to natural supports, familiar places, and regular activities, community-based treatment is the certainly the preferable option and often less traumatic.

Walk-In Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units are often located in the same facility run by a community mental health provider.  Crisis Walk-In Centers offer face-to-face evaluations, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year for those who are experiencing a mental health emergency.  Patients at Walk-In Centers can also receive up to 23 hours of observation and Crisis Respite onsite.  Staff can also offer referrals to community-based mental health treatment and follow-up services.  Crisis Stabilization Units are the next step up for patients who need intensive, short-term stabilization.  Admissions are voluntary, and the average length of stay is about three days.  An important note: the entire continuum of crisis services in Tennessee is completely free to access and available to anyone, whether they are uninsured, publicly insured, or privately insured.

Let’s talk about the expansion. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is grateful to Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for providing about $35 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to construct four new Crisis Stabilization Units and Walk-In Centers.  We looked at the data and identified two rapidly growing suburban areas (Murfreesboro and Clarksville) and two underserved rural areas (Dyersburg and Paris) for the new locations.  When they’re all online sometime in 2024, Tennessee will have a total of 12 Crisis Stabilization Units and Walk-In Centers.  The eight current centers are located in:

  • Chattanooga: Operated by Volunteer Behavioral Health
    413 Spring St, Chattanooga, TN 37405
  • Cookeville: Operated by Volunteer Behavioral Health
    1200 S Willow Ave, Cookeville, TN 38506
  • Jackson: Operated by Pathways Behavioral Health
    238 Summar Dr, Jackson, TN 38301
  • Johnson City: Operated by Frontier Health
    208 E. Unaka Ave, Johnson City, TN 37601
  • Knoxville: Operated by McNabb Center
    5310 Ballcamp Pk, Knoxville, TN 37920
  • Memphis: Operated by Alliance Healthcare Services
    951 Court Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
  • Morristown: Operated by McNabb Center
    320 West 3rd N St, Morristown, TN 37814
  • Nashville: Operated by Mental Health Cooperative
    275 Cumberland Bend, Ste. 237, Nashville, TN  37228

The other big news in the world of crisis services is the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  The 988 number is now the single “front door” into services for people experiencing a mental health emergency.  When you call or text 988 or chat with, your calls or messages are routed to trained crisis counselors who work at crisis centers across Tennessee.  Because they’re local, they know the resources, and they’re well-positioned to get you the help you need.  We’ve seen amazing response to 988 since it launched in July 2022.  In just the first six months, there were more than 21,000 calls to 988 and about 10,000 texts and chats from Tennessee.

The important thing to know with every facet of our crisis services continuum is that there are no exclusions.  Every provider in the continuum is funded to work with any Tennessean regardless of disability in their time of mental health crisis.  If you encounter issues, do not hesitate to reach out to myself ( or our Office of Consumer Affairs Helpline: (800) 560-5767.

Tennessee is blessed with an amazing crisis services continuum, and we’re grateful to our partner providers and their dedicated and caring staff who make it possible.

Jennifer J. Armstrong, LPC-MHSP, serves as the director for the Office of Crisis Services and Suicide Prevention in the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  She has more than 20 years of experience in behavioral health care, working in therapeutic foster care, school-based, residential, outpatient and crisis services settings.  Armstrong joined the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in March 2020 and provides vision, administration, and oversight of all the department’s Crisis Services, Suicide Prevention and Disaster Management programs.  She is a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and earned a Master’s of Science degree in clinical social work from the University of Tennessee at Memphis.  Armstrong is a licensed professional counselor with mental health service provider designation.


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