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SEARHC Behavioral Health Launches 24/7 Toll-Free Help Line

SITKA, Feb. 9, 2010 — A personal or family crisis doesn’t always happen during clinic hours, so the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Behavioral Health Division recently contracted with a St. Louis-based crisis call center — BHR Worldwide — to provide help for Southeast Alaska residents when they need it most.

The SEARHC Help Line, 1-877-294-0074, launched early this month and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska. The crisis call center is staffed by a team of master’s-degree-level mental health therapists who will listen and provide effective, compassionate and confidential care.

When someone from Southeast Alaska calls the help line, the counselors in St. Louis will assess the situation and provide appropriate intervention using SEARHC Behavioral Health protocols. The protocols range from talking through the immediate problem to contacting local law enforcement or after-hours clinics in a situation where an individual is in danger of harming themselves or others. Follow-up calls from SEARHC Behavioral Health or our partner agencies, if the client requests them, are made the next business day. Clients also can ask for anonymity and no follow-up call.

“We started the SEARHC Help Line at the request of our communities” said Melody Price-Yonts, SEARHC Behavioral Health Division Director. “They felt we needed to have a service available outside of normal business hours for people who need to talk through a personal or family crisis, or even might be contemplating suicide. We’ve had very positive feedback from our communities about the Help Line.”

“From 1995-2004, there were 335 non-fatal suicide attempts from Southeast Alaska that resulted in hospitalization in the 0-24 age group alone. This is unacceptable,” said Wilbur Brown, SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Manager. “We need to offer help before people hurt themselves. This is a confidential service and people can call day or night, when they feel they need it most. It’s great SEARHC is offering this service so the people in our communities can receive competent, sensitive counseling when they’re in crisis.”

The help line is funded through the Indian Health Service-funded Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative, one of two grants SEARHC recently received for suicide prevention. The state-funded Alaska Youth Suicide Prevention Project, the other grant, will help a regional team develop a sustainable suicide prevention plan that can be taken back to each community, as well as provide Gatekeeper first responder training. For more information, contact Wilbur Brown in Sitka at 966-8753.

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