Iowa mental health hotline seeing surge in calls for suicide
DES MOINES, Iowa - More Iowans are reaching out for help with problem gambling, mental illness, and substance use disorder. That’s according to an annual report for the state-funded program called “Your Life Iowa.” The hotline is seeing a surge in calls to help prevent suicide, which is the second leading cause of death for Iowans age 15 to 24.
In 2018, YLI took 475 calls for suicide. Last year, they took 7700 - a 16-fold increase.
Rebecca Peterson, with House of Mercy, a women’s substance abuse and mental health treatment center in Des Moines, says it’s also seeing more patients.
“We believe we’re seeing more of it and have made some adjustments in our treatment offerings to support that,” Peterson said.
Peterson says since the pandemic, the rise in patients seeking mental health treatment may be because there’s less of a stigma on mental health.
“Programs like ours, mental health programs, have tried to make themselves more accessible by offering walk-in assessments, making sure people know how to get a hold of us. Many of us have 24-hour phone numbers where people can call and reach out,” Peterson said.
Peterson says there’s a shortage of mental health care workers in the state, but that shouldn’t stop someone from trying to get treatment.
“Don’t give up. I always tell families that it can get discouraging if you find out that there’s a waitlist or you’re not getting phone calls back, keep trying, keep calling, and you will get the help that you need,” Peterson said.
Peterson says a lack of insurance shouldn’t stop people from trying to get assistance either. The state has funding for providers to help people who may struggle to pay. Peterson says Your Life Iowa can help connect people to an affordable provider.
You can connect with Your Life Iowa through phone, text, and live chat.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts and need immediate assistance, you can call 9-8-8.
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