UNC Health has dedicated a 54-bed inpatient behavioural health facility in Butner, North Carolina, US, called UNC Hospitals Youth Behavioral Health.

It will provide acute psychiatric care for children and adolescents and is set to admit patients by the end of the month.

Previously known as the R J Blackley Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center, the facility has been repurposed through a partnership between UNC Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

UNC Health CEO Dr Wesley Burks said: “I believe the mental health of our children and adolescents is the largest issue affecting our state’s future health.

“This was a problem even before the pandemic but has now reached dire levels.

“The opening of this facility will not solve this problem, but it’s an important step in the right direction, and the first step in our partnership with the State to greatly expand access to this care.

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“We hope to mirror this partnership across North Carolina through multiple facilities across the state.”

According to a press statement, the facility is staffed by over 200 healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, paediatricians, and therapists, offering evidence-based treatment.

It also offers specialised therapy rooms such as music and art therapy spaces to help young individuals develop coping and emotional regulation skills to support their recovery.

This new facility is expected to serve more than 800 young individuals annually, alleviating the need for them to wait in crowded emergency units for specialised psychiatric treatment.

UNC Health, part of the University of North Carolina system, operates a network of 15 hospitals, 19 hospital campuses, and over 900 clinics.