A new lifeline for mental health issues

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Lisa Yob was surrounded on all sides.

A job loss, illness and a divorce all came at the same time.

On the outside she persevered, but internally it was all too much to bear. In July of 2014, she attempted to take her life by taking pills. Fortunately, her daughter found her in time and Yob’s life was saved.

But that’s not all that happened. She also got the resources she needed to manage her mental health going forward.

On this episode of To The Point Already, Bay News 9 anchors Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus, discuss the new 988 mental health crisis hotline with specialists from the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and why people need to reach out.

“As in most cases, it’s not one thing happening in your life,” Yob said, recalling her descent into depression. “It’s a multiple amount of things all happening at once.”

“In my case, I was going through a huge transition. Before I knew it, I was drowning in depression and I got to a point where I lost all hope.”

This is where 988 can truly be a lifesaver. And life changer.

The crisis line for 988, the first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline in the US, went live on Saturday.

It’s designed to be as easy to remember and use as 911, but instead of a dispatcher sending police, firefighters or paramedics, 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors.

For Crisis Center of Tampa Bay workers, that means being there for callers dealing with a variety of mental health issues across a variety of stages. It can be intense, draining type of work.

“Answering suicide calls is nothing new for our organization,” said Crisis Center Senior Director of Marketing Ken Gibson. “988 (is part) of the infrastructure in place to be able to help someone having those thoughts of suicide or having and emotional crisis.”

Ashley Morris, a supervisor at the Crisis Center, said workers at the center are specifically trained to deal with these types of calls. Often she said, the worker’s job is to just listen and add input as needed.

According to Centers For Disease Control statistics, in 2020, two million people dealing with mental health crises were booked into jails and 20% of law enforcement calls dealt with some type of mental health issues. And more than 46,000 of the 1.2 million yearly suicide attempts were successful.

Yob said not only was her life saved, but she received the help she needed to survive and deal with future issues. The Crisis Center was able to provide her with a “toolbox of resources” not only for her but for family members attempting to help her or themselves.

“I didn’t have to be embarrassed because I was dealing with depression,” Yob said of the counseling she received after her suicide attempt. “What the crisis center staff does is make you feel secure and safe, which allows you to talk.”

“It takes courage (to call) but it’s absolutely worth reaching out.”

ABOUT THE SHOW

Spectrum Bay News 9 anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.

Catch up on our latest To The Point Already podcast episodes.

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