Volunteers Needed to Help Individuals in Crisis
Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis (MHA Indy) has recently seen an increase in the number of phone calls received through their Crisis and Suicide Intervention Service (CSIS) Crisis Line and is calling for more volunteers to help meet the growing demand of callers. The Crisis Line offers free, supportive counseling and referrals to community resources. In 2012, approximately 40 volunteers throughout the year took just fewer than 10,000 calls. “As we see our call volumes expand and need for greater availability of the texting service, we have strengthened efforts at increasing the number of volunteers to be trained in order to continue to grow our services. We estimate our volunteers contributed $112,230 worth of cost savings last year to MHA Indy by donating their time and energy to our cause,” reported Mr. Dunn, Crisis, and Suicide Director for the agency.
MHA Indy is seeking empathetic individuals with good communications skills and an interest in mental health. A 40-hour CSIS training program for volunteers begins July 31 at the MHA Indy office located at 301 East 38th Street in Indianapolis. The training focuses on mental health, crisis intervention, suicide intervention, addictions, abuse, and community resources. For questions, or to register, please call Mike Dunn at 317-251-0005 ext. 1010.
MHA Indy currently has approximately 30 volunteer positions to fill in order to keep their services running at the capacity necessary to meet the needs of the community. The organization’s CEO, Gina Hays, says the value of this community resource is immense. “Some individuals are at a disadvantage in dealing with crisis situations because they lack the emotional maturity or education to know how to cope with everyday challenges. As such, they may act out against themselves or others. The Crisis Line operates under the assumption that an individual will choose alternatives to aggressive or suicidal behavior if given the opportunity. As such, the Crisis Line is a resource for community safety and family stability in these trying times.”
The Crisis Line is also available via text messaging, currently available only at limited times during the week. The texting service is of extreme importance in reaching youth in the community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that Indiana teens are more likely, compared to the rest of the U.S., to attempt suicide. They have also reported that nearly 19% of Indiana teens have seriously considered attempting suicide and 14% have made a plan on how they would commit suicide. Furthermore, Pew Research Center reported in 2012 that cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends and family. In a recent study, 77% of teens report owning a cell phone and 63% say they exchange text messages on a daily basis (a much higher percentage than other forms of communication such as face-to-face or social networking.) In order to guarantee the availability of resources for teens and other individuals who may be more comfortable using a text-based crisis line, the number of volunteers responding to text messaging must be increased.
Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis is a leading not-for-profit agency dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. The organization’s mission is to advance mental health across all communities in Greater Indianapolis through education, advocacy, and intervention.