Available mental health services includes Dial Help

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette No less than 12 panelists were present in-person for the May 27 presentation on mental health awareness at the Keweenaw County Courthouse, while several more were present via internet chat services. Among those who spoke was Rebecca Crane (third from left), executive director of Dial Help. The message in the foreground, taped to the rail, is a website for any interested members of the public to visit. The URL for the site is https://is.gd./healthy4all.

EAGLE RIVER — Rebecca Crane, executive director of Dial Help, was among a large panel of mental health experts from around the area who spoke at a mental health awareness presentation at the Keweenaw County Courthouse on May 27.

The purpose of the presentation was to provide a platform for a community-based, public forum to discuss the state of mental health in Houghton, Keweenaw, Ontonagon and Baraga counties, as well as a means of mental health organizations to discuss available services, strengths in the mental health system, as well as weaknesses. Also discussed were ways individuals can become involved and support those with mental illnesses. The presentation was also aimed at helping the community to understand mental health, and so reduce if not eliminate the social stigma associated with mental illness. In attempting to accomplish these goals, the presentation also brought to light that the need for mental health services in the area has been steadily increasing in at least the past decade.

Crane said that Dial Help has been providing crisis intervention via telephone for 50 years, and for the past 15 years, Dial Help has also been answering the Lifeline calls, which is a toll-free telephone number for suicide intervention.

In addition, it has also added instant messaging and texting to provide more ways for people with needs can contact the organization.

Crane said that Dial Help added a Safety Net program for those with more complicated issues or more intense needs a couple of years ago. The program provides a person who will call them every week with follow-ups. For instance, she said. if their service provided the caller a list of counselors or other mental health experts, the program will conduct a follow-up call, asking such questions as was the caller able to connect with a counselor. If not, Dial Help will assist with working with the caller to do so.

Crane said Dial Help’s calls have increased substantially in the past decade.

“When I first started 13 years ago,” she said, “I think our mental health-related calls were about 15-20% (of total calls). Now, they are at 33%, so, one-third of all calls.”

The suicide calls comprised 2-3%, she said, and have increased now to 12%.

Dial Help also conducts suicide assessments for Portage Health hospital, she said, for people who are insured.

“About half of the people we see are under the age of 24,” Crane said.

Crane wanted to make clear that all youth suffering mental health crises or suicidal ideations must go downstate, because there are no facilities in the Upper Peninsula that serves them.

In addition to constantly seeking additional funding, Crane said that with some funding through the Portage Health Foundation, Dial Help has increased the number of counselors and crisis interventionists in all the schools in the four-county area, to get youth help sooner, to prevent suicides, and to direct them to proper services.

Dial Help was formed in 1971, by a group of local citizens concerned about drug abuse, the Dial Help website states. From that original group of volunteers who manned the crisis line, the tiny service has grown into a non-profit organization of over 50 staff and volunteers offering a variety of services.

One example, as Crane stated is the Safety Net program, which offers follow-up support with phone call or text message for people dealing with suicide risk or loss, addiction, or complex crisis.

Follow up includes:

– Emotional support.

– On-going assessment of mood and potential suicide risk or relapse.

– Assistance with safety planning.

– Connection to resources to overcome barriers.

Also offered through Dial Help are:

– youth services.

– victim services.

– Substance Use Disorder services.

– In-school prevention.

– In-home family support.

– Education and Training. This is for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and Crisis Support 101. Available across the UP by request.

For those who are in need of help, please reach out: Call l-800-562-7622; text 906-356-3337; or chat online at www.dialhelp.org.


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