Saturday, May 18, 2024

LDH Secretary Tours Bossier City Facility

by Stacey Tinsley
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Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune

On Monday, May 13, 2024, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Secretary Dr. Ralph Abraham toured the 988 call center located in Bossier City in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. The Bossier City 988 call center is one of two in Louisiana, serving the 318 and 337 area codes. The other Louisiana 988 call center is located in New Orleans. The nationwide 988 mental health hotline, which launched in July 2022, replaced the former 10-digit nationwide mental health hotline phone number.

“I’ve been on the other end of those conversations. And a lot of those conversations are very tough. These people are crying, literally, for help. And the people that are answering these phones, they are frontline heroes. Because they do save lives on a daily basis. If they weren’t there, some very bad things would happen,” said Dr. Abraham.

“At LDH, we are working hard to bring on more counselors. Right now, we have many provisional individuals working towards licensure and certification. But previously, they have not been able to access our Medicaid system. We’re changing that. As of August 1, we’re working so that they can access it. They can get paid to do what they are trained to do. That helps us at LDH fill those gaps and, again, help those people,” Dr. Abraham added.

The 988 Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Since its inception, the Lifeline has engaged in various initiatives to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all, including innovative public messaging, best practices in mental health, and groundbreaking partnerships.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health launched the Lifeline on January 1, 2005. Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the grant, works with its partners, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), National Council for Behavioral Health, and others, to manage the project, along with Living Works, Inc., an internationally respected organization specializing in suicide intervention skills training.

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