St. Bernards Behavioral Health (SBBH) launched a new 24/7 call center on Wednesday (Oct. 6) aimed at providing informational resources for behavioral and mental health-related services and questions. The center, staffed by licensed health professionals in confidential settings, will guide callers to available behavioral health resources.
SBBH Assistant Vice President Kevin Byron said it was launched in conjunction with National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, saying this type of regional, around-the-clock service has not existed in Northeast Arkansas.
“Many people who call us have tried sifting through information online, and it quickly grew overwhelming for them,” Byron said. “Our goal with the Call Center is to provide the community with a practical resource on taking the next step toward better mental health.”
Byron said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of readily available mental health services.
“COVID really exacerbated a prevalent crisis,” Byron said. “St. Bernards immediately recognized a need to expand service delivery by meeting people where they are, even if they have no established history with us. The new call center demonstrates our commitment to that cause.”
According to the most-recent data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 20.3% of Arkansas adults reported a mental illness within the past year. SAMHSA also cites more than 5.5% of Arkansas adults reporting a serious mental illness within the past year, including 4.7% experiencing serious thoughts of suicide. Each of these statistics rank above the national average.
Byron said St. Bernards designed the call center to operate as a supplemental resource alongside crisis services and hotlines.
“The call center exists to educate the general public on available behavioral health options, so it works in tandem with crisis services,” Byron said. “But I can’t stress the following enough: If any person experiences thoughts of harm or suicide, we urge them to go directly to the Emergency Department or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They can get the best stabilization help there.”
The SBBH 24/7 call center is available immediately to assist with behavioral health questions at (870) 207-0440.