CRYSTAL LAKE – In the wake of a high school shooting in Florida last week that killed 17 people, the McHenry County Mental Health Board is reminding residents of resources available in a time of crisis.
The “MCHELP” mobile app allows people to text or call a licensed professional counselor in times of crisis, or to share suspicious activity or concerns 24/7.
McHenry County Mental Health Board Executive Director Scott Block said that right now is an important time for community members to know what mental health resources are available to them.
“While we can’t predict that the use of the app can prevent tragedy, it can and does help people who call and text with problems,” Block said.
Block referenced problems such as in relationships, with bullying, substance abuse, depression, loneliness, self-injury, homework anxiety and more. Callers often are directed to other services available on the app for long-term help.
“There is still a lot of stigma, unfortunately, on accessing care for mental health services, so this app gives direct access to a live person, and it can be done anonymously,” Block said. “They can work with professionals to follow up on any other potential service recommendations.”
A 2017 Healthy Community Study found that 21 percent of the survey respondents who were unable to receive services cited that they were not sure how to find mental health services. Since then, Mental Health Board members are putting a greater emphasis on making sure the community is aware of the services offered.
The app was developed through an anonymous donor who granted the funds for a texting and voice line two years ago. The line was expanded to an app that is available for free on iTunes and Google.
On Friday, the Mental Health Board sponsored a petition and certification training course with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The course was given to more than 100 people Friday and walked them through how to involuntarily admit someone to be hospitalized for mental health reasons.
Participants were taught the legal process involved in involuntary psychiatric admission, such as how to prepare for court hearings and how to become more competent in filling out petitions correctly so courts uphold the documents.
“The petition process comes into play as mental health professionals might become familiar with someone voicing self-harm or harm to others,” Block said. “It’s very important individuals understand this process and can help someone access care.”
The Mental Health Board also hosts a monthly “intake coordinators” meeting, where representatives from network providers meet to share service offerings, eligibility criteria, payer information and waitlist information so that any provider can help link residents to services.
• The McHenry County Crisis Line, 800-892-8900, is supported by the Mental Health Board and provides a central point of access for all behavioral health needs in McHenry County.
The crisis line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by local mental health professionals.
• The Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center has partnered with the Mental Health Board to assist the Spanish-speaking community with accessing services. A bilingual service navigator can be reached at 815-322-2357.
• United Way of Greater McHenry County renewed its efforts to promote the local 211 help line. By calling 211, residents can access free and confidential information, as well as resources on health and human services.