Georgia's Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers offer free mental health care

View of Milledgeville State Hospital's Central Building in Baldwin County, Georgia, January 1937. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress)

Chris Johnson, the interim executive director of Communications for Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, says one of the driving forces behind his work to improve the lives of people with mental health issues is that he’s witnessed firsthand how mental health challenges have been handled in Georgia historically.

Johnson says he grew up visiting Central State Hospital in Milledgeville and the images still haunt him now as an adult.

“Central State Hospital in Milledgeville was the largest asylum in the world,” said Johnson. “It held over 12,000 people at one point and over 25,000 people are buried there.”

Johnson and Melissa Kazakides, the administrative coordinator for Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, were guests on On Monday’s edition of “Closer Look.”

They spoke about Georgia’s lack of mental health resources, and how the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network is working to expand access to mental health care across the state through Georgia’s Peer Support, Wellness, and Respite Centers.

The respite centers offer free, week-long stays for people who need a calm place to cope with their mental health issues.

During the conversation, the guests talked candidly about the need for more funding to continue offering services at the respite centers.