Breaking News
More () »

'This is a legacy for the Smith family' | Ribbon cutting held for Smith Family Behavioral Health Urgent Care

A new urgent care specifically addressing the city's mental health care needs is getting ready to open in east Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A "who's who" of Charlotte gathered Friday to support the soon-to-open Smith Family Behavioral Health Urgent Care in east Charlotte.

The facility has been almost two years in the making.

Former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith told WCNC Charlotte that before COVID-19 hit, their medical clinic was seeing a few people.

In the 12 to 13 months following the pandemic, staff devoted 1,900 hours alone to mental health counseling. Smith said he realized the need for a dedicated facility.

"This isn't a legacy for Steve," an emotional Smith said at Friday's ceremony. "This is a legacy for the Smith family."

Smith Family Behavioral Health Urgent Care, operated by Daymark Recovery Services, aims to help those with mental illness or substance use disorder before patients need to be hospitalized.

"When you think of behavioral health, people think of inpatient which is [the] psychiatric ward," Smith said. "This facility is more about trying to help and apply and to give them able resources to get their lives back in order and be functioning and get away from the stigma of mental health."

Local law enforcement shared their support of knowing the value of a facility like this one.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

"This gives us another resource for the police department to be able to get people long-term help and long-term assistance," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden added, "To see it where it is today brings me joy in my heart and also tears to my eyes because I know who is going to come here."

Smith said he is hopeful of what kind of facility it will be.

"I believe that Charlotte, we're trying to position ourselves to be a prototype, to be the trendsetter in behavioral health," Smith said.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

"He is a pioneer," McFadden added. "For an athlete to bring something like this to our city, our county, and be hands-on because I know the hours they put in and I know the commitment they made -- it is a step in the right direction."

Smith Family Behavioral Health Urgent Care will officially open on March 20. It will be available to patients with or without insurance 24/7.

In the spirit of removing the stigma from mental health, Charlotte-area storyteller Zach Matheson started a "Once Upon a Trauma" storytelling event. Matheson, who channels his own challenges with mental health into the art of storytelling, told WCNC's Jane Monreal the showcase is an opportunity to share the struggles in a safe community.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Before You Leave, Check This Out