A Hope(Way) to Well-Being
Hopeway entry. Outdoor space includes walking trails, green house and garden
Charlotte’s First Non-Profit Residential Mental Health Facility Opens
by Kimberly Lawson
If your only source of information about mental health treatment centers comes from movies, the picture you have in your head is nothing like what HopeWay, Charlotte’s new mental health care center, has become. The group therapy rooms feature posh furniture reminiscent of a college student activity center, the bedrooms have large windows for natural lighting, and the Learning Kitchen—yes, there’s a Learning Kitchen—is spacious enough to cook a feast in.
“One of the very deliberate choices was to be a very bright and warm residential type facility so that someone will feel like they’re at home or at a hotel,” says HopeWay CEO Alyson Kuroski-Mazzei. “Nothing about HopeWay speaks to being in a locked psychiatric unit or in a cold environment.”
The 12-acre campus of Charlotte’s first and only nonprofit residential and day mental health treatment facility, located on Sharon Road West, was completed last month. Once it receives its state licensure (probably this month, Kurosk i-Mazzei says), the facility will begin taking clients.
HopeWay fills a need in the Charlotte area for a place where adults 18 and up can go to continue receiving care after being hospitalized for acute psychiatric symptoms. Therapists will be on hand to help treat people diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and stress disorders, depression and more.
“A key part of HopeWay’s mission is to increase the accessibility of mental health care in this region so families no longer have to send their loved ones away to distant cities to receive the continuous care they need,” said William F. Blue Jr., chairman of the HopeWay Foundation, in a press release. Blue co-founded HopeWay with his wife Betsy after struggling to find help in Charlotte for a family member.
While it is a 24-hour facility, there are no locked units; no one will be treated involuntarily. Patients can stay overnight and receive access to medical services and psychiatric care as well as therapeutic group activities and individual therapies. There’s also a day treatment component as well as an outpatient program.
One way to increase access to care is to address the financial burden that too often accompanies getting help. It’s for that reason that HopeWay takes insurance; Kuroski-Mazzei says many residential centers do not. Furthermore, she explains, “for folks whose insurance doesn’t cover the amount of days that we think is clinically indicated, we’ll have a financial aid assistance program to supplement that to help families cover the cost of treatment.”
By the time the facility reaches full capacity—which is a total of 86 to 90 clients, including 36 residents—staff will include three psychiatrists and 13 therapists. It is also supported by Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health, which will refer mental health patients who need ongoing care after being discharged from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.
HopeWay will also offer a slew of adjunctive therapy options, including art, music and recreational therapies, walking trails with a meditation pavilion, a greenhouse and garden (where people will actually “get into the earth” and watch something grow they’ve planted themselves, Kuroski-Mazzei says), as well as the aforementioned Learning Kitchen.
“One of the objectives of our program is to help people launch into independent living,” says Kuroski-Mazzei. “Being able to take care of oneself is really the goal.”
Kuroski-Mazzei also says the opening of this new facility will help tackle the stigma attached to mental health issues. “What we’re doing is trying to normalize the conversation and talk about mental health issues just as any other medical disease, such as hypertension and diabetes. These are brain disorders, and the more we can educate people in the community and talk about it like it’s no big deal, the better off folks will be.”
HopeWay is located at 1717 Sharon Rd., West. For more information, visit HopeWayFoundation.org.