INDIANAPOLIS — The state of Indiana is preparing for a new system to handle mental health help calls.
It comes after two mental health crisis centers closed recently, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of calls to remaining locations.
“Our job is to talk them through the crisis and then with 988 there will be so much more to take it from that step into other steps that will allow them to heal to be able to be more productive and function better,” said Muncie’s A Better Way Services Executive Director Teresa Clemmons.
Starting in July of 2022, 988 will be the number Hoosiers can call for mental health help. Indiana lawmakers have already set aside funds for infrastructure and they’re thinking about future ways to fund it.
“The beauty of the 988 system is that once it’s in place, if there is a similar fee structure that’s used to fund the 911 system, that program alone can bring in approximately $50 million per year,” said State Sen. Michael Crider of Greenfield.
In the meantime, call centers like A Better Way Services and Mental Health America are addressing Hoosiers’ needs now.
“We saw about a 45 percent increase in call volume,” explained Brandi Christiansen, the CEO or Mental Health America’s Wabash Valley Region.
“Across the nation, calls to crisis centers have increased dramatically,” added Clemmons.
Duke Energy is helping them keep up with the high call volume with a $100,000 grant.
“They are on the front lines making a difference for so many people,” said Dan Rhodes, Community Relations Manager for Duke Energy Indiana.
Both call centers are hiring right now and looking for more volunteers. They hope lawmakers continue to prioritize mental health and increase funding for 988 in the future.
“We’re hopeful, we are excited to be a part of it,” said Christiansen.
“We are all aware that this is game changing,” said Clemmons. This can really dramatically improve the mental health services across the state of Indiana. So, we are all in and ready to make it happen.”
Sen. Crider said since lawmakers made mental health such a priority this year, he sees that momentum continuing next session.
“We should be able to take advantage of the progress we’ve made and build on that,” said Crider. “And hopefully create a system that serves all people better than we have in the past.”
Until 988 is in service, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also click here to find more mental health resources.