COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A mental health board in Franklin County is pointing to a troubling statistic: suicide is now the second leading cause of death among kids ages 10 to 14 and adults ages 18 to 25.
It’s been a little more than a year since 988 rolled out across the United States and one central Ohio call center is now seeing up to eight times more calls than before the number was available.
“About 180 calls during the month of August of ’22,” ADAMH Vice President of Advocacy and Engagement Dr. Ameena Kemavor said. “We are now up to 1,400 calls for the month of June of this year. That does not include the other call lines that are still open for crisis for people to call who may be in crisis as well.”
Federal funding helped centers take more calls and hire the staff needed to support people across the state. In Columbus, that money helped North Central Mental Health Services go from nine staff members to 18. The center hopes to add three more.
“We’ve been able to pretty much fully staff our phone lines because of the implementation of 988,” 988 and SPS North Central Mental Health Services Director Alison O’Donnell said.
Now the lines are staffed 24/7; however, volunteers still play a vital role.
“I think right now we have about 50 active volunteers, which is truly amazing, and they do great work,” O’Donnell said.
It’s also helping meet the demand the area is seeing.
“Diagnoses like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, so those are the primary diagnoses here in Franklin County,” Kemavor said. “This did not start with the pandemic. I’ve been in this space for almost 30 years and behavioral health has always needed more.”
The support and resources are important so everyone can get the help they need.
“We all have mental health,” Kemavor said. “We may not all have mental illness, but we certainly do all have mental health.”
North Central Mental Health Services said it’s always looking for volunteers. Those interested in helping out can sign up for training, with the next session starting Oct. 12.