Iowa Helpline serves a great need in East Central Iowa. With individual community access to crisis services on the decline, many in crisis turn to the medical or law enforcement community for assistance. Iowa Helpline exists to be a qualified, intermediary step, allowing people to get professional mental health assistance in a less stressful and traumatic environment, and without spending hours in the ER. This service, coordinated and provided by Mental Health/Disability Services of the East Central Region is designed to reach deep into each of our nine counties, and provide support to those who need it most. ECR plans to network deep into these communities – and network with the people who will refer those in need, as well as the people who will receive services.
Imagine this: police are called to a scene where there is a distraught young adult. The family is at their wit’s end. The scene is emotionally charged. The dispatched officer really only has a few choices, one of which is to hospitalize the subject, the other to talk through the situation and perhaps connect them with another resource, if the resource is known and available. Sometimes the situation is so charged that it escalates and can result in an arrest or detaining someone.
In this situation – is this the best use of law enforcement’s resources? Or could a trained counselor get to the location and help defuse the situation and get the subject the services they need? Maybe the answer iS admittance to a medical facility, but maybe it’s a lower level of intervention. Not only does this service serve as a resource to communities, law enforcement and medical facilities, but it can actually potentially save the subject from incurring a large medical bill, or ultimately save the taxpayers dollars by reducing the amount of emergency response calls and unpaid hospital bills. Iowa Helpline: It’s a tool, not only for those in need, but for those who have the highest frequency of interaction with people who can benefit from this service, ultimately avoiding unnecessary escalation.
It’s a big picture solution to a problem that exists everywhere. Jails and hospital beds are often filled with patients who need mental health services, but haven’t been connected to them before a situation escalated to admittance or incarceration. Our goal is to be that intermediary step. We’re Iowa Helpline.