After operating since 1969, Minnesota’s statewide mental health crises hotline will be shut down. Fortunately, it will be open for another two months to give people a chance to find an alternative crisis prevention service. The hotline was almost shut down immediately until officials agreed, during the night of July 13th, to continue the hotline until at least late September.
Before the hotline was supposed to shut down, Minnesota’s Health Department agreed to fund $139,000 to keep the crisis line open for the time being. The funding comes from previous allocations by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The hotline was going to shut down because the nonprofit agency that saved it from shutting down in 2010, Canvas Health, is now unable to financially continue the service. The line was supposed to no longer be operating by July 14th.
What is so troubling about the hotline closing is that it is the only statewide mental health crises line Minnesota has. Minnesota state health commissioner, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, stated that “with Minnesota facing historically high suicide rates and an opioid addiction epidemic, we were concerned about losing this lifesaving resource that serves tens of thousands of Minnesotans every year.” When asked why they could no longer provide the service, Canvas Health’s Chief Executive Matt Eastwood said, “we are just not a large enough organization that we can sustain losses of $100,000 to $300,000 a year.”
The funding provided by the Health Department means that calls made from Minnesota to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, will continue to be transferred to the Minnesota crisis line until the end of September. Without Minnesota’s crisis line, Canvas Health, calls made from the state to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will cause longer wait times on the phone which could lead to more tragedies. An estimated 20,000 Minnesotans called the crisis line this year. With an increase in wait time, the likelihood of tragedies for such a large amount of people is too great.
Now that the Crisis Connection hotline will no longer be active after late September, Minnesotans will need to find other means to prevent their depressive and suicidal crises. Everyone is still encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, but to expect a longer waiting time after September. Although the shutting down of Crisis Connection removes the statewide crisis prevention, some cities in Minnesota maintain crises resources that should be taken advantage of. Visit Mental Health Minnesota to find crisis programs in the Twin Cities and surrounding locations. These programs include youth and family counseling, shelter, food, and various health programs. When life becomes tough for yourself or someone you know, don’t hesitate to get help. Saving a life is one of the greatest deeds, even when it’s your own.