JoCo Mental Health Takes All Local Suicide Prevention Calls

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Now anyone in Johnson County who calls the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will speak directly to a licensed mental health professional in their own backyard.

It’s a move that the center says reduced wait times and provided a direct connection to local resources. Johnson County Mental Health made the transition official on August 27.

“It’s an example of how we use data to make better decisions for our community,” said Rob MacDougall, director of emergency services at Johnson County Mental Health Center. “We looked at the national hotline numbers and knew we had the capacity to take calls from Johnson County.”

In the first three weeks of handling these calls, the center received an average of 33 calls per week, in addition to the 542 calls that reached the centre’s already existing 24/7 crisis line.

“What I think we’re seeing is that people need long-term coordination of care and long-term treatment resources. So, suicide isn’t just an episodic moment most of the time, it’s something that people can experience chronically, ”said Andy Massey, Certified Senior Social Worker with the Assessment Team at Johnson County Mental Health crisis.

And when an individual is connected to someone locally, there is an added benefit of local knowledge and a sense of community.

“People really need to know that they are not alone in this crisis, but there is always someone who can be there with them – you bear witness, you support, you listen and you help them determine what they are doing. there is something they can do to make it better, ”said Kris Winegar, Johnson County Mental Health Team Leader.

The licensed clinicians who answer these calls hope that just knowing the person online will reach someone who knows the area and the resources can give them the extra courage to seek help.

“I think it always bothered us to know that there might be people in the area who needed resources or support or whatever and they were being directed somewhere else and we didn’t even know it,” said Winegar. “Just being able to connect with people on a more personal level because we’re all kind of in the same community. “

If you or someone you know is going through some sort of mental health crisis, it is important to know that you are never alone and that there is a network of people and services that can help provide support.

If you need someone to talk to, resources or coping strategies, the Johnson County 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line number is (913) 268-0156. This line is answered by the same team of people who now answer local calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where the number to dial is now 988.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or in emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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