Much needed home for seriously mentally ill men to reopen in Midvale

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MIDVALE — A mental health facility for Salt Lake County’s poorest and most vulnerable men is preparing to reopen after it was closed a year ago because of substandard living conditions.

Odyssey House and Salt Lake County partnered to take over the facility in Midvale because there is such great need in that population.

Shortly after Christmas, the newly renovated facility at 163 E. 7800 South will become a long-term home for 18 men who need round-the-clock support for serious mental health issues.

“We want to show up for people who don’t have people showing up for them,” said Christina Zidow, chief operating officer of Odyssey House.

Salt Lake County invested nearly $500,000 to renovate the home and partnered with Odyssey House to manage it. It is now updated, clean and welcoming.

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“The individuals who are going to live here all have severe and persistent mental illnesses,” Zidow said.

Odyssey House will provide residents with 24/7 supervision, meals and medication management. Many of them struggle with schizophrenia and need medication supervision to get well, Zidow said. Some also have substance abuse problems because it helps them feel better.

“Most of them are pretty sick,” Zidow said. “So this is a long-term landing pad for them, and we want to make sure that it’s really safe and encouraging.”

All of the men are already receiving treatment through other programs in the community.

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“Our job is really to give them a safe place to live and help them learn some of those basic life skills that they may have never learned or that they may have forgotten along the way,” she said.

Last January, a sewer line break eventually rendered the previous, independently operated facility unusable, and it was closed.

“This type of facility is an intervention that keeps individuals from the last stop in our system, which is psychiatric inpatient hospitalization at a state hospital,” said Seth Teague, senior program analyst for Salt Lake County Behavioral Health Services.

Others may end up homeless.

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“And they’re essentially dying on the street if they don’t have that intervention, or they end up in jail or prison,” he said. “So this type of facility gives individuals the opportunity to get the services they need to prevent all of this from happening.”

Some may be able to stabilize and either move back home with family or live independently.

“Ideally, we’d like them to stay as long as they can.” We want this to be a safe, long-term solution for them,” Teague said.

Residents are due to start moving in next week.

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