Skip to main content

Huntsman Mental Health Institute Celebrates $5 Million Donation and Unveiling of the Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center

Today—Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) announced a generous $5 million gift from Kem and Carolyn Gardner to support the Mental Health Crisis Care Center. Expected to open in 2024 and located on 3300 South between 900 and 1000 West in South Salt Lake, the new center will be named the Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center (MHCCC).

"Utah has the highest prevalence of mental illness in the country, impacting every family at some point," says Kem Gardner, philanthropist and chairman of Gardner Company. "We have 30 grandchildren and have not known where to go or what treatment options are available when some of them have struggled. We have to do something different and find better ways to treat youth and adults. This center is so needed in our state. Carolyn and I are pleased to join the University, state legislature, Salt Lake County, and the Huntsman family in this important effort."

Kem and Carolyn Gardner
Kem and Carolyn Gardner

Kem and Carolyn are both actively engaged in community service and philanthropic work. From Intermountain Healthcare, United Way, the Utah Symphony, and especially the University of Utah, the Gardners’ influence and generosity are reflected across the state of Utah.

"We are grateful to Kem and Carolyn for their wonderful donation," says Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO of HMHI. "They have a tremendous tradition of giving to the University of Utah and this community. The Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center will be a welcoming place for all adults experiencing a mental health crisis. Their gift will transform the lives of thousands of people who walk through the doors of the center and help transform how we deliver mental health crisis care in our community and beyond."

Since the initial groundbreaking in May 2021, HMHI has been meeting with community leaders and engaging hundreds of community groups, patients, and stakeholders in focus groups to understand our community's complex mental health needs and how the MHCCC will best serve people in crisis. HMHI also worked with consultants with expertise in mental health facility design to ensure that the building is welcoming and inclusive, honors the humanity of those who enter, and facilitates safe and effective care.

"We are excited about the creative design, the input we received from the community, and the partnerships that have been brought together to make the Kem and Carolyn Gardner Crisis Care Center truly leading edge," Rapaport said. "The building is unique because it is the first to integrate community services, training, and research with crisis care. The programs and collaborations that will occur at the center will ensure that patients and their families break the cycle of despair and receive the absolute best immediate help and ongoing support in one convenient location."

Crisis services and stabilizing treatment will be individualized to meet patient needs and will include:

  • 23-hour treatment and observation stay for those in our 30-bed receiving Center
  • Short-term, rapid stabilization inpatient treatment in our 24-bed acute care unit
  • Medication-assisted treatment clinic for individuals with opiate use disorders
  • Intensive outpatient treatment for adults needing support for substance use disorders
  • Mental health day treatment for adults that need more help than traditional outpatient care

In partnership with dozens of community stakeholders, an entire building floor will be dedicated to supporting services. These include:

  • Free law clinic to remove legal barriers that disrupt many families with a mental health crisis
  • Primary care and dental care clinics
  • Intensive case management
  • Connections to existing community programs for housing, health care, and employment

Researchers will work alongside clinicians, patients, and their families to develop evidence-based best practices for treatment and care and develop new approaches to helping people. The center will also be a site for training future crisis care professionals, including social workers, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others.

"We're building a crisis care center that integrates training, research, and clinical care into one entity so that we are always evaluating and learning about the best approaches to treatment and creating new models of care," Rapaport continues. "The Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center is a forward-thinking concept, and what we are building is not being done anywhere else."

The new 78,000-square-foot Kem and Carolyn Gardner Mental Health Crisis Care Center will be located near the Salt Lake County jail and the South Salt Lake men's homeless resource center. The MHCCC is the first building on the future site of the Huntsman Mental Health Institute Campus of Hope. The MHCCC will expand HMHI's existing mental health crisis services.


A dinner honoring Kem and Carolyn and the Gardner family will occur this evening at Huntsman Foundation. The Gardners will be joined by the Huntsman family, University of Utah President Taylor Randall, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, and other philanthropic and state leaders.

Kem and Carolyn Gardner’s donation, combined with other private philanthropists’, state, and county funds, nearly covers the $47 million cost of the building. An additional $3 million will need to be raised by private donors to complete the project. To learn more or make a life-changing donation, visit the website at this link.