DAYTON, Ohio — Starting Jan. 1, anyone in Montgomery County can access mental or behavioral health services at any time with just a phone call. 

The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board partnered with Recovery Innovations international to launch the Crisis Now Hotline, a 24/7 call service to connect callers with on-the-phone counselors or if necessary a mobile crisis response unit.

What You Need To Know

  • Montgomery County’s Crisis Now Hotline launched Jan. 1

  • Callers dial 833-580-CALL for immediate mental health assistance

  • Counselors can dispatch a mobile crisis unit to intervene on-site

  • The service is hoping to launch a short-term shelter to help with intervention
  • The goal is to divert mental health emergencies from police and hospitals

Callers dial 833-580-CALL or 833-580-2255 and are immediately connected with trained crisis counselors with Behavioral Health Link. Gina Gibson, BHL CEO, said they’ve been trained to determine whether the crisis can be resolved over the phone, needs on-scene intervention or whether the caller needs a place to go.

“During that assessment, we may be able to resolve the issue, give them resources, plan for safety, etc., but we also may need to do a referral to a higher level of care,” she said. 

Gibson said it’s a way to divert people in crisis from interacting with law enforcement or going into emergency departments unless absolutely necessary. This way, responders, specifically trained in dealing with these kinds of crises are available to respond and other first responders are free to use their resources elsewhere. 

According to RI International, which has launched this program in 10 states, 70% of calls to these crisis lines are resolved on-scene.

In Montgomery County, Helen Jones-Kelley, the executive director of ADAMHS, said the need for this service has only grown since the pandemic began. Overdose deaths are at a three-year high and calls to suicide prevention hotlines are up 30% on the year.

“When people are reaching out for help, they need to be served in that moment,” she said. 

Once they get that initial service though, Jones-Kelley said they need to know where to go next. The counselors with the crisis line will help callers take that next step, by collaborating with partners throughout the Montgomery County area and connecting those callers with the right services to fit their needs.

“Ours will be a national model for how crisis services can work from the point of initial crisis to the point of recovery or engagement with other community providers,” Jones-Kelley said.

The Crisis Now Hotline launch is the first phase of efforts to offer those wraparound services, by the end of the year, ADAMHS hopes to launch a receiving center in Dayton. It would be a 16-bed, short-term shelter for those who need immediate care, where people could get treatment for 23 hours and talk to staff for direction on their next steps. 

As the program gets off the ground, Samantha Wells, who is already in recovery for drug and alcohol addiction, said she expects the Crisis Now Hotline to be a big help to people who were in the same place she was a year ago.

Wells received recovery services from OneFifteen after calling a hotline for help

“There were so many times I wanted to reach out and it's hard to because like the phone feels like it weighs a thousand pounds when you’re calling for help,” she said.

Wells said knowing there’s someone on the other end, who will offer help without judgment makes it easier to call, but the knowledge and the access has to be there. 

“When that thought crosses your mind that you’re ready to get help, there’s a very short window of time where you have to either do it or change your mind,” she said.

Wells said with a 24/7 crisis line and in-person services to match, she hopes fewer people fall through the cracks at this stage, because everyone needs initial support to start the journey towards recovery.

“Somebody saw something good in me that I didn’t see in myself and I just fed off of that and now I’m almost 13 months clean,” she said. 

Montgomery County’s Crisis Now Hotline is the first in Ohio, but Franklin County is also working with RI International on a similar project to improve mental health services around Columbus.