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Texting the hotline for help will also work. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “When you’re struggling and in crisis and you text 988, your trained counselor will listen, support you, and share resources. #988Line of life”

A new 988 hotline is expected to go into effect today throughout California, and Won’t do be answered by the law enforcement dispatch, but rather by trained call center staff or volunteers, who will have the ability to transfer the call to law enforcement if necessary. This effort requires the training of these volunteers or call center staff, and should bring relief to 911 dispatch centers that had been sending mental health crisis calls in addition to other types of emergency calls. that require the attention of law enforcement.

The new three-digit Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Hotline #988 is intended to take mental health calls out of the realm of law enforcement emergency response. Instead, these calls are directed to emergency health care services that are better equipped to deal with these types of non-criminal circumstances, instead of dialing 911 and receiving a response from law enforcement. order.

When it comes to mental health emergencies, Humboldt is no stranger to trauma – unfortunately holding some of the highest ACE scores in the state – and will no doubt benefit from having a separate crisis line for those at risk of or in the throes of a mental health crisis.

According The first five Humboldts as quoted in a documentary produced by local PBS station KEET-13 with help from local reporter James Faulk, “Scoring four or more on the 10-question ACE questionnaire is associated with a host of mental and physical health issues that can follow a person throughout one’s adult life.About 31% of Humboldt County residents have an ACE score of four or higher, about double the percentage of California residents who have a high ACE score.

“Any point of access to seek help for behavioral health issues is a benefit to all members of the Humboldt County community,” the Arcata Police Chief told us via email. , Brian Ahearn. “Mental health experts, elected officials and members of the service community in our region are committed to triaging and meeting the needs of all people in crisis. The ability of the system and our local ability to respond to each challenge depends on a number of factors, including the volume of calls received and the types of services requested.

The Arcata Police Chief added, “There is a tremendous spirit among all the local practitioners to do everything possible on behalf of all those in need.” Ahearn reassured us that law enforcement was always on hand to lend a helping hand when needed, saying that “the willingness of service providers to continue to answer the call should in no way diminish. following the posting of 988”.

988 suicide and crisis helpline

Several graphs are provided for sharing on social networksincluding this one, which offers details for those interested.

California Democratic Assemblyman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a native of Orinda, authored the bill, AB 988, in honor of a 23 year old man who was shot by Walnut Creek police “during a mental health crisis.” Bauer-Kahan animated the legislation after him, calling it the Miles Hall Lifeline Act.

In a interview last year, the assembly member noted that if law enforcement did eventually respond to a call for help that came through the 988 hotline, she speculated that the The objective was to bring this person to a setting other than a prison, for example. “They wouldn’t go to jail because law enforcement is not the responder. Thus, our prisons would not continue to be our primary providers of mental health care, but we would establish a network of services. Some people need hospital care that cannot be provided outside the hospital, and we need to make sure we have the [necessary] beds, which we don’t do today. If someone needs someone to talk to on a weekly basis, the county will be able to provide those services.

Bauer-Kahan noted: “[We need to ensure that] the counties, which really should be the service providers, have the resources to provide care to those who need it. And, right now, we’re just terribly inadequate in the services we can provide. The bill really leaves it up to the counties with proper funding to create a system that will work for the community.

Back in Humboldt, DHHS Behavioral Health Branch Deputy Director Paul Bugnacki told us, “988 will be helpful to anyone in need of behavioral health services (both mental health and addictions). ) nationwide, in California and even in Humboldt County. 988 call centers have trained counselors to answer phone calls and text messages to this new three-digit number.

A Humboldt County person calling or texting 988 will be directed to the Yolo County Call Center and then, if necessary, connected to Humboldt County services. Bugnacki explained, “People answering 988 calls can activate 911 services if needed or connect the caller to a county’s established crisis line. Our closest regional call center is in Yolo County with which Humboldt has a long established relationship. People in Humboldt County who call 988 can be connected to our 24/7 crisis line (707-445-7715 or toll-free at 1-888-849-5728), and our staff will continue to manage calls made directly on our line. as well. 988 provides an easy-to-remember supplementary number that people can access to help them find any behavioral health services they need. »

California Department of Health Services (DHCS) announcement in 2021 that the state would spend $20 million to help launch the new mental health hotline. The CDPH press release announcing the hotline in 2021 explained: “When people are in mental health crisis, they need to get fast help from the right place at the right time. The new bill hopes, in part, to lift a huge burden off the shoulders of small law enforcement departments struggling to meet mental health and suicide needs in rural communities, in particular.

DHCS director Will Lightbourne said in the press release announcing the plan last year: “There has been a great need for 988 for years, but the need is all the more urgent now, after 18 months of global pandemic and the personal, social and economic stresses and anxieties that come with it. We look forward to working with California call centers to ensure they are connected to implement 988.”

The program is looking for volunteers to get started and learn the ropes. According to SAMHS, a person could “join the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline as a volunteer or employee to respond to calls, chats and text messages from people in crisis. The website assures: “You will receive training, so if you are a caring person who wants to help people in crisis, apply today.”

Considering that the impact of the pandemic has been relentless and has severely affected small and rural communities, the need for a separate and more accessible helpline for mental health emergencies is even more pressing a year later. .

This article is written by Ryan Hutson, a local freelance journalist. Follow Ryan on Humboldt Independent Reports on Facebook, instagram and Youtube. Sustain Ryan’s award-winning reporting, please consider donating here.