STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month, Stonington launched a new campaign to help people in crisis but also help them to try to find a way to avoid a crisis. The campaign is called 211/911 Which/When.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34,” said First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough, (D-Stonington). “We know that we can and must do better.”
The town of Stonington, Stonington Police, and the United Way are joining forces to try to do better. They have launched a new campaign ‘211/911 Which/When?’
“911 when it’s vital. 211 when it’s helpful,” explained Tanya Barrett, Sr. V.P. 211 Heath & Human Services for United Way of CT.
In 2020, the 211 system handled 122,000 crisis calls.
“91 percent of those calls… callers reported that their crisis state was diminished after speaking to a contact specialist,” said Barrett.
This campaign is aimed at getting the word out so the right call can be made.
“Social media to billboards to lawn signs to library book marks, I think we may even have something going out in our tax bills,” said Chesebrough.
“I often say that when you see 10 ambulances in any community at least two of them are going on a mental health call today,” said Stonington Police Chief Darren Stewart.
Especially these days with the added stresses of the pandemic.
Not only may it be important to know when to call 211 or 911 but it may also be important to know when to bring your child to an emergency department for psychiatric care.
At Lawrence & Memorial Hospital they have seen an uptick in those types of visits.
“Panic, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts,” said Dr. Craig Mittleman who heads the Emergency Department at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.
He says many of the cases are COVID-related due to the isolation but also reentry trauma when kids go back to school.
“There’s more kids and adolescents now that are making serious threats and taking action on some of those threats,” said Dr. Mittleman.
He suggests people call 211 to help determine if a child can be helped at home or needs to go to an emergency department.