Mental health in focus – Daily Ardmoreite

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

OKLAHOMA CITY — Mental health issues have been at the forefront of state leaders’ minds for the past two legislative sessions. The number of suicides among teens ages 10 to 19 rose in five states during the pandemic, according to a 14-state study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Oklahoma is one of those five states.

On July 1, 2022, a new service will be available to offer help to people struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. Across our country, a new service will be launched that will provide increased support for people in crisis.

A new phone line will begin operating with the digits 988. This is the number approved by the Federal Communications Commission to replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 11-digit number. The change came after mental health and suicide prevention advocates petitioned Congress for a shorter, easier-to-remember number for those in crisis.

When you call 988, crisis counselors will provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress when they need it most.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), “988 is a three-digit hotline to trained behavioral health professionals who can open the door for all Oklahomans to seek the help they need. needed, while sending the message that healing, hope and help are happening every day.The Federal Communications Commission has passed rules to establish 988 and will activate it nationwide on July 1, 2022. The 988 is the first step in a multi-level crisis response.

ODMHSAS is the state agency coordinating the statewide deployment of the National Mental Health Lifeline as part of its comprehensive crisis response system. The call center also includes mobile crisis response, crisis reception and stabilization services, and follow-up appointments.

It is expected that the center will eventually integrate with the 911 system, as many 911 calls are mental health related.

With that, one of the first questions I posed to heads of state was how this might affect 211. If you are unfamiliar with the dialing of 211, in most states this number connects you to a system that provides information and referrals for health and social care assistance.

Heartline 211 has a broad mission to provide service in our state. They connect Oklahomans with help, hope, and information around the clock through a myriad of services. According to their website, they help over 200,000 Oklahomans in need each year, including connecting to financial assistance programs, housing/shelter support, orientation with transportation and legal aid, connecting with health and dental care and disaster assistance.

Leaders anticipate that 988 crisis centers will coordinate with 211 and other similar lines. This will help ensure a holistic approach to whatever number a person may use first.

Without stopping there, evidence also shows that specialized crisis programs for adolescents (eg, dedicated crisis teams) produce significant positive results. An example in Oklahoma is with Integris Health helping to launch Hope Squad programs in schools. Hope Squad is a national school-based suicide prevention program that engages and trains young people to recognize and report the warning signs of suicide among their peers. Students received Hope Squad training and school counselors were trained in an evidence-based method of suicide prevention called QPR, which stands for Ask, Persuade and Refer Someone to Help.

Through 988 and programs like Hope Squad, services are springing up to help those struggling. If you feel someone is going through a difficult time, please refer them to 988 and the support services available in their area.