Massachusetts’ new 24/7 hotline allows those seeking mental health services to connect with a clinician for free. The state’s Behavioral Health Help Line is an initiative of the outgoing Baker administration to address the shortage of hospital beds and long waiting lists for mental health providers.
Beginning January 3, anyone needing help with mental health or substance use can call or text 833-773-2445 or visit masshelpline.com to speak to a clinician or trained professional. You can virtually chat with Direct callers to providers in your community or dispatch a crisis management team.
“It’s really like triage,” said Rebekah Gewarts, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. boston public radio“This allows you to connect to a variety of services, connect to community behavioral health centers, connect to other services, and more. [help] line. ”
And then there’s the follow-up. After the initial conversation, the hotline her worker will reach out to the caller and ask if the help they need has been obtained.
“I think this could be a roadmap for the entire country, not just a roadmap for Massachusetts,” said Gekirtz. “Many states are struggling with this problem of lack of access to mental health services and the lack of people who can provide those services.”
The helpline is also available for those seeking help for family and friends.
Gewirtz said a fragmented healthcare system can be confusing and people may not understand where to go for mental health support. Anyone in the US can now call 988. Launched last July, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 211 connects callers in Massachusetts to people at medical and human services.
“Now we have this new helpline rollout. But also – don’t forget – we have 988, 211, 911,” she said. We want to make sure consumers have the information they need to know where to go.”
The answer should be taken up by the state’s 988 committee, Gewirtz said. She said the committee has not yet met and the groups involved are ready to move forward. I hope that important next steps will be prioritized under Governor Healy.
“You know, things can go slow,” she said. “There are many committees created by legislation. The Behavioral Health Trust Fund Committee is another. Yes, and they intend to advise Congress to use those funds.”
The 988 Commission doesn’t have that kind of financial impetus, Gerwitz said, but the urgency is there because of the various phone lines.
“We just have to meet,” she said.