MISSOULA - When people dial 988 they are connected with trained staff to help with mental health crisis intervention.
“But our goal is to be able to help them to resolution,” said Western Montana Mental Health Center Director of Access Corey DeStein.
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Helping find a resolution just became easier, with the quick access and easy number to remember, for those in need of mental health services.
“Mental health is a wide array," said DeStein. "What might truly impact me, is not going to impact the next person in the same way.”
DeStein tells MTN News that this number is significant for him, a milestone in the acknowledgement of mental health.
“I lost my dad to suicide," said DeStein. "And I’ll admit before I worked in this field, I didn’t know about the lifeline, hotline number, the 1 (800) 273-TALK. And my dream of this is that people will have that 988 ingrained and know that that resource is available.”
The state of Montana ranks third in highest suicide rates, behind Alaska and Wyoming.
The Western Montana Mental Health Center serves seven counties and roughly 300,000 people. Since the launch of 988, they have received 805 crisis calls. And with an expected increase of nearly 30% in calls, funding for the program is a key piece to the puzzle.
Montana was awarded federal funding from SAMSA which was divided among the three call centers in the state — Bozeman, Great Falls and Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula. The nearly $500,000 in funds were intended to support an increasing in staffing needs in anticipate for the call volume associated with 988.
“More long term funding is going to be critical to assist the nation, not just Montana," DeStein told MTN News. "But the nation in providing this valuable service.”