In July 2022, Coleman’s Crisis Centers, serving Allen, Auglaize, Hardin and Stark counties, started answering calls coming in to the new 9-8-8 universal emergency number for mental health crises and suicide prevention. Since the federal government passed the National Suicide Designation Act of 2020, which established this number, states across the nation – including Ohio – selected existing crisis call centers to respond to these calls in preparation of the transition.
Coleman was chosen to answer calls in these counties and beyond based on its reputation as a leading behavioral health center with the staff and expertise to manage the demand this new program is expected to bring. The 9-8-8 number replaces the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
To fully prepare for the increased volume in calls coming from the 9-8-8, Coleman cross trained existing employees to also focus on data entry and collection. Plans are also in place to boost staffing and add one new Coleman employee per shift.
“We are honored to be involved in this historical milestone for mental health across this four-county area,” Coleman Health Services Chief Officer of Behavioral Health Services Margaret Lawrence said. “Since the pandemic, calls to our crisis center have steadily increased. We are poised and ready to address this community’s growing need for more accessible crisis care.”
The need for expanded crisis services cannot be overstated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020 data shows that more than one in ten adults in the U.S. had seriously considered suicide in the month before their survey and four in ten adults had experienced a mental health condition. Closer to home, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which is in charge of the 9-8-8 rollout, reported that more than 1,800 Ohioans died by suicide in 2019.
An easy to remember number, such as 9-8-8, will connect those in crisis or contemplating suicide to highly trained mental health crisis interventionists. With direct access to these specialty-trained providers, the hope is that anyone who is struggling will get the support they need to deal with their challenges and continue on a path to healthier living.