WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Families in the Waterbury area have a new resource to help when a child struggles with behavioral and mental health. It is called the Urgent Crisis Center. When you walk in, you see right away it’s less emergency room and more living room.

“If their child is having difficulty in the home, in school, with their peers, and the parents are becoming worried or really quite concerned with their behaviors, it gives us an opportunity to be available to the family at the time of the crisis,” said Kristin Pracitto, the vice president of child services.

When families walk into the center, a nurse asks what the crisis is, and what support they are looking for.

“That second question is really important to the care model because it helps us move us towards that solution focus-oriented approach,” explained Taby Ali, the center’s associate medical director. “It’s not just describe the crisis, describe the problem, but what is it about this problem that you’re looking for support around?”

Couches, toys, and soothing art help kids and their parents relax and open up about what’s going on and what might be causing issues. The furniture is weighted so no one having trouble regulating their behavior can throw anything. A whole team spends hours talking, evaluating, and planning. It’s much better than what often happens in a mental health crisis.

“They would take their child to the emergency room and ask for an evaluation there,” Pracitto said. “We all know that emergency rooms tend to be very emergent, crisis-driven, and quick and cursory.”

Wellmore Behavioral Health opened this Urgent Crisis Center in downtown Waterbury in June. It’s already treated nearly 30 young people, none of whom needed to go to the emergency room. Part of that is because the center helps children develop a future crisis plan.

“What can I do the next time I have an urge to engage in self-harm? And what role does my parent play to support that?” Ali said.

When they leave the center, the hope is that families not only have that plan for how to deal with the next crisis but are put in touch with local and state resources to help them deal with the next crisis.