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New Maryland '988 helpline to offer critical mental health support services
Baltimore Sun - 7/28/2022
Baltimore area leaders announced the launch of a 24-hour helpline Wednesday to address the growing need for emergency mental health support and promote community emotional well-being.
The helpline, which Maryland residents can reach by dialing 988, connects callers to local centers providing free, safe, supportive, confidential and professional care.
The goal of the new helpline is to prevent suicide and provide quality emergency mental health care across the state.
Callers will hear a message telling them that they've reached CALL 988. After a brief moment on hold, a counselor at the closest call center - which are located in Baltimore city, Columbia, Timonium and Westminster - will answer the phone, listen, provide emotional support and share resources for long-term care.
"Mental health is a critical issue in all communities and launching the national 988 helpline is a potential lifesaver for Carroll County residents, strengthening their connection to life-saving services and providing an important tool that everyone will know in any location," Carroll County Commissioner Dennis Frazier said in a news release.
The program is paid for by federal and state grants and hospital funding, according to Adrienne Breidenstine of Behavioral Health System Baltimore.
"This is a huge step in the right direction for those experiencing behavioral health challenges in our region," Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott said at a Wednesday news conference. "We know our emergency departments and police resources are often overly reliant on situations where an individual is experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This is an unsustainable approach, especially at a time when mental health challenges are on the rise across this country."
CALL 988 is aimed to better connect people to compassionate and humane behavioral health care, according to the release.
"The launch of 988 is a huge opportunity for behavioral health care," Crista Taylor, president and CEO of Behavioral Health System Baltimore said Wednesday. "988 reflects a shifting of our values showing that people [who] need mental health crisis services should be part of our community emergency response, a priority [Behavioral Health System Baltimore] has advocated for."
Mariana Izraelson, executive director of the Columbia-based Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, Inc. said the helpline will help serve the needs of those in Howard County.
"We are proud to be a part of this experienced team of providers supporting the 988 helpline," Izraelson said in the release. "Together we make sure that individuals in the greater Baltimore area receive timely, qualified emotional support when they need it."
For more information on CALL 988, visit 988helpline.org.
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