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Utah’s mental health crisis hotline getting a lot of calls, but some require in-person outreach

Posted at 6:27 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 00:03:43-04

SALT LAKE CITY — More and more people are calling Utah’s Mental Health Crisis Hotline lately.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of increase, especially with school returning and with all of the other concerns that are happening within our community,” said Amanda McNab, a clinical staff development educator for University of Utah Health's Crisis and Diversion Services.

Some concerns and crises can be handled over the phone, but others need to be handled in person, McNab said. That is where the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team comes in.

“Our Mobile Crisis Outreach Team is made up of a clinician, who is a master-level mental health therapist or clinical therapist, and a peer support specialist,” she said.

The goal is to encourage people to call the crisis hotline instead of 9-1-1 during a mental health crisis, according to Carlos Palomo, a licensed clinical social worker and behavioral health supervisor with the Utah State Crisis Line.

“A lot of it is about diverting resources away from medical professionals and law enforcement and focusing a lot of those resources on the mental health professionals who can go out into people’s homes in a state of crisis and really help deescalate situations and help people,” he said.

There are still times when people should seek help from police or medical professionals, but the hope is that during a mental health crisis, people will call on the hotline.

“Really, the only time we are recommending people call 9-1-1 is when safety is concerned and there are medical issues happening,” McNab said.

The mobile crisis outreach team is available in many places across the state, with an ultimate goal of even rural communities having access.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 801-587-3000.

For more information, click here.