State's crisis line is a starting point for addiction-related services, but handles a range of issues that may negatively impact a person's mental health.

For many people seeking help with addiction, a call to the state’s crisis line is the first step toward treatment and recovery, but the 24/7 hotline helps people with a range issues impacting their lives.

“If somebody is in a crisis situation, then the crisis line is where they should be directed,” said Amy Kevis, director of Emergency Services at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

According to its website, the Division offers a continuum of crisis intervention services located throughout the state in the Crisis Intervention Service Centers, the Recovery Response Center and emergency rooms. Crisis Intervention Service staff are available 24 hours a day to assist people 18 years and older with severe personal, family or marital problems. These problems may include depression, major life changes such as unemployment or loss of an important relationship, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, delusions, paranoia and substance abuse.

In May, when the state relaunched its Helpisherede website, it included the crisis hotline telephone number, but called it a helpline, which caused some confusion among callers. The Helpisherede website is a resource for people with an addiction.

“They wanted to be linked up with help,” Kevis said of the people calling, “but we don’t provide treatment, we link with services. There was some confusion over what the helpline was supposed to provide.”

Jill Fredel, director of Communications with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, said the aim was to make it as easy as possible.

“We try to speak in a little more conversational way when we put things on websites,” she said.

The website has since been updated. Now it tells people that if they are experiencing a medical emergency they should call 911, and if they want help with addiction-related services they should call the crisis line.

The helpisherede website is a good source for information about addiction, treatment, recovery and education. The Delaware Hepline – calling 211 – is another resource for information. Fredel said parents worried about their kids can also talk to their school or their pediatrian for general information, but should use the crisis line if the need is more immediate.

“If you are totally worried about what is happening next I would call the crisis hotline,” she said.

Kevis said that while the crisis line is geared toward more immediate problems, they don’t turn away any callers.

“Folks can absolutely call the crisis line for referral resources, information on addiction or any other questions or concerns they might have,” she said. “My staff is available to answer questions, listen or link to community referral resources, whatever the need may be.”

The aim of Crisis Intervention Services, she said, is to get people the help they need when they need it.

“We don’t want people to have to think about what they need, treatment or crisis,” she said. “We just want people to call one number and tell us what they need and then we can direct them there.”

The New Castle line has averaged about 1,000 calls per month the past three years. The line for Kent and Sussex counties has averaged about 350 calls monthly. In April, May and June of this year, the New Castle line averaged 859 calls and the Kent/Sussex line averaged 418.

Staff answering the phones are trained and are supervised by a licensed mental health counselor. They will talk with callers to find out about the problem and offer them options to help get them through the crisis. Or, if needed, they can do a home visit.

“We have to have a conversation with the caller to really figure out what they are saying, what they need,” Kevis said. “If it is a crisis we can send a team out and get that person linked up with in patient hospitalization.”

Staff also do follow-ups to see how people are doing.

“We do a lot of well-being calls on people,” Kevis said.

Ultimately, regardless of whether a person is experiencing a mental health crisis or an addiction-related crisis, the crisis line is a resource for help.

“We want to make sure people are linked with a live person when they are ready to get help, when they have made the decision they want to get help,” Kevis said.