Advance Notice: Briefs

Mental health ‘warmline’ launched amid COVID-19 pandemic

By: - April 14, 2020 11:20 am

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has launched a statewide “warmline,” an alternative to a traditional psychiatric hotline, for residents living with persistent mental health challenges including anxiety, depression and trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can reach the warmline by calling 888-733-7753. People experiencing a crisis, including those considering suicide, are urged to contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-8255.

The warmline is available to all Michiganders, regardless of insurance status, and will connect people with certified peer support specialists who have lived experiences of behavioral health issues, trauma or personal crises, and are trained to support and empower the callers.

The warmline will provide support to Medicaid beneficiaries, who DHHS says often lack social connectedness and may now have increased anxiety and feelings of severe isolation during the pandemic brought upon by the disease caused by a new coronavirus.

The warmline will offer peer support seven days a week, 16 hours a day from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. to help prevent a person from experiencing extreme emotional distress that can lead to hospitalization or suicide.

“The warmline will help individuals with long-term mental health challenges find someone to talk to — someone who has lived these challenges themselves — and do it while staying safe and staying home,” said Robert Gordon, DHHS director. “COVID-19 is a grave threat not just to physical health, but also to mental health, and we are doing everything we can to offer support for everyone.”  

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DHHS says it’s working with Justice in Mental Health Organization (JIMHO), a Lansing-based nonprofit developed by advocates who have dealt with mental illness in their lives and found that peer-support is the best avenue in recovery for the launch of the warmline.

JIMHO, which has been a fixture in helping more than 15,000 people over the last 39 years, will moderate the warmline and network with the Certified Peer Support Specialist group, the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan and the DHHS peer services unit.

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Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak

Madeline Ciak is a former Michigan Advance reporter. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12.