Here's how the new national mental health crisis line will work in Washtenaw County

This article is part of a series about mental health in Washtenaw County. It is made possible with funding from Washtenaw County's Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage.

In Washtenaw County, implementing a new 24/7 national mental health crisis line has brought improved visibility to services that already existed locally.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched last month nationwide, offering round-the-clock access to mental health resources. In Washtenaw County, dialing 988 will connect individuals to Washtenaw County Community Mental Health's (WCCMH) mobile crisis team, which also is available 24/7 to county residents. WCCMH Program Administrator Melisa Tasker notes that the Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL) has created a referral database that includes all Michigan community mental health organizations and their resources, services, and contact information.
"We will be notified of any referrals that come through 988 and MiCAL to make sure we are able to connect the caller to the mental health services they need as soon as possible," Tasker says.
Like 988, WCCMH's CARES Hotline is also a 24/7 resource that connects callers with local services that are equipped to handle mental health crises. 
Not everyone calling 988 or WCCMH is in a crisis. Some people just need to talk, or understand what resources are available to them. 
"MiCAL has a peer line that is open every day of the week and is just for folks that need to talk to someone about what they have going on," explains Tasker. 
However, calling WCCMH's mobile crisis number will also put individuals in contact with mental health care professionals who specialize in outpatient care and substance abuse screenings as well as general mental health care.
"The 988 number is going to add another layer of support for individuals who may not know about the CARES hotline yet," Tasker says. "The more phone numbers and resources available, the better."
For immediate access to Washtenaw County mental health services, call (734) 544-3050 anytime.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.