A couple of local nonprofits are teaming up to revamp a widely-used mental health crisis hotline.
It’s called Central Coast Hotline and it’s used by thousands of people needing assistance with mental health services each year.
Transitions-Mental Health Association is looking to help even more people by adding text messaging to that hotline.
Central Coast Hotline fields roughly 10,000 calls each year.
“Some people call because they're in active crisis. They're in panic,” explained Melanie Barket, Central Coast Hotline Program Manager. “Some people call because they just want to talk, because they want to process. Central Coast Hotline, I believe, is a vital resource in this community.”
She says calls increased during the pandemic but they are still going up.
“The springtime is the highest rate for suicides. Lots of people think it's in the dark of winter, around the holidays, but it's really during the springtime so we're anticipating our call volume to go up and hoping that this system is going to be really helpful,” Barket said.
According to Barket, most of the callers are in their 30s to 50s. She says in order to reach the teen and young adult population, text messaging will be added to the call center’s services.
“The teens, as you know, I'm sure everybody is aware, as a parent I’m aware, that they don't like to pick up the phone and talk on the telephone. They don't feel comfortable. Also, it's more vulnerable doing that and texting is a little bit more anonymous and easier,” Barket continued.
She says the text messaging option will also help victims of domestic violence.
The call center is teaming up with northern San Luis Obispo County nonprofit Must! Charities to make the new messaging capability a reality. It’s awarded more than $550,000 to the center.
“We want everyone to feel comfortable where they're at and we want to make sure everyone is getting the resources that they need, especially during a time of crisis,” said Becky Gray, Must! Charities Executive Director.
The money will allow for the outdated phone system to be replaced. They’ll also upgrade the call center space and extend free therapy sessions for several more years.
The call center will then apply to be a part of the 988 national suicide hotline which rolls out in July, countrywide.
“We want to be here to help navigate whatever challenges they're facing and our call handlers are experts at the resources here in our counties,” Barket concluded.
The goal is to get the 24/7 text messaging software up and running by June.
The call center is always looking for volunteers. If you’re interested, you can contact Transitions-Mental Health Association for more information.
Central Coast Hotline #: 800-783-0607