Memorial Health emotional support line to close
A hotline staffed by Memorial Behavioral Health counselors was created during the pandemic was designed to respond to emotional distress that accompanied lockdowns, employment uncertainty and remote schooling. Now, after answering more than 4,000 calls since its inception in March 2020, it will shut down this week.
Instead, people in crisis are now encouraged to call 988, the national crisis hotline, which is answered locally by MBH employees. They can also call the Mobile Crisis Response at 217-788-7070, which is a service available around the clock to residents of Christian, Logan, Mason, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon and Scott counties.
“By creating an Emotional Support Line, Memorial Health answered a real need in a timely manner,” said Diana Knaebe, system administrator for Memorial Behavioral Health. “In a time of great fear and uncertainty, the stress level for people of all ages escalated rapidly. Calling the support line was a crucial first step for callers in setting up or maintaining mental health services. We are proud of the help we were able to provide to thousands of people who needed information about resources or just a caring and compassionate person on the other end to listen.”
Formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, dialing 988 offers 24-7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, struggles with substance use, mental health crises or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
Callers to 988 are not required to provide any personal information, and the crisis counselor who responds will not know anything about the caller beyond a phone number or IP address, if using chat.
The 988 hotline provides free crisis screening and intervention services for people of all ages, regardless of whether they have health insurance. In the first year of 988 operation, the Memorial Behavioral Health Lifeline Call Center answered more than 1,870 calls ranging from situations of emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, substance use crises and callers seeking resources for loved ones.