BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Those asking where they can get help for their mental health might not have to search much longer when a new hotline will put a crisis specialist on the phone to help in time of need.
“[The] 9-8-8 is just a game changer, because now anyone who’s having any kind of crisis, they can call that number,” explained Tonja Myles.
Myles said the 9-8-8 hotline is a breakthrough for people in a mental health emergency. In Louisiana, close to 3.6 percent of adults deal with some sort of mental health condition. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports more than 60 percent don’t get the help they need.
“A lot of time people see someone in crisis and they don’t know what to do,” she continued.
Myles, a mental health advocate, said the National Suicide Prevention phone number is changing from a ten-digit number to three digits, 9-8-8, and will connect people to Louisiana resources.
“It could be a mental health crisis, a substance abuse crisis, an emotional crisis,” Myles said.
Almost two million dollars will go towards the mental health hotline to make sure residents have all the resources they need. Myles said this is a start.
“I think that just like with anything else that’s built that’s new, you know, there might be some kinks and some challenges, she said. “As we see the calls increase, then we’ll probably see more funding that will come and, you know, address more mental health resources in our community.”
People who call the hotline will receive assistance from the Bridge Center of Hope and other resources in the area.
“The Bridge Center and we have so many other different resources to connect people with,” said Myles.
She said she hopes the new hotline lets everyone in the community know it is okay to ask and receive help.
The hotline will be up and running by July 16.