Missouri prepares new hotline ‘911 for mental health’

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Inside Chad Coalition’s office, Marine McCord works to raise awareness and prevent depression and suicide. It’s a passion born of tragedy after her son Chad took his own life at the age of 18.

“I think most parents are like me and my husband and think ‘that would never happen in our family,’ but it did,” Marine McCord said.

Resources for parents and youth are available, but soon one, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, will be more accessible.

“One number for all your behavioral health needs,” says Bart Andrews, clinical director of the Behavioral Health Response Agency in St. Louis City, explained.

That number will soon be just three digits – 988. The three-digit helpline will launch nationally on July 1.

BHR staff will be among those picking up the phone. They now offer 24/7 crisis support and phone advice, answering thousands of calls a month. The move to three-digit numbers is expected to increase caller numbers exponentially.

“We know that when you make it easier for people to call the crisis line, more people will call. So we wanted to make sure we could answer all the incoming calls,” Andrews said.

In Missouri, they have been working to increase staffing. A recent report from the New York Times found that some states are unprepared for the transition, and funding is a problem.

Andrews said: “Missouri has done a great job.

According to Andrews, Governor Mike Parson’s proposed budget allocates $26 million for the 988 program. If approved, he believes it will go a long way in ensuring help is available when someone is in trouble. Crisis needs it.

If you or someone you know needs help, the number to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline right away is 800-273-8255.

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