A crisis hotline is a necessary piece of a mental health system. When a person, parent or family member is in crisis, they need help now. In a crisis, your brain doesn’t think like it does when things are calm. The fight or flight response begins. Your muscles are ready to run or fight to keep you safe. And, this keeps you from thinking clearly.

In times like these, a one-stop-shop crisis line is critical. And, when you don’t know the next step, a quality crisis hotline can be invaluable!

crisis phone

A law passed this year that will implement a statewide hotline number. Since redesign in 2011, the state recommended crisis hotlines, but not all regions developed them. And, those that did develop them did not use a consistent number across the state. As you can guess, this added to confusion.

Annual Service Plans

Regions submitted their annual services plans in April 2018 for FY 2019.  All service plans say that they have 24 hour access and phone services at hospitals and community mental health centers in each region. Multiple regions have a 24-hour hotline number in addition to these access points.

Crisis Hotline Numbers

The following are a list of their crisis hotline numbers per their report:

  1. Central Iowa Community Services: 844-258-8858
  2. County Rural Offices of Social Services: 319-362-1170
  3. County Social Services: 855-266-1257
  4. Eastern Iowa MHDS region: 844-430-0375
  5. Heart of Iowa Region: 844-428-3878
  6. MHDS of the East Central Region: 855-800-1239
  7. Northwest Iowa Care Connections: 844-345-4569
  8. Polk County Health Services: 515-282-5752
  9. Rolling Hills Community Services Region: In development in 2019
  10. Sioux Rivers MHDS: In development in 2019
  11. South Central Behavioral Health Region: 844-430-8520
  12. Southeast Iowa Link: 855-500-1239
  13. Southern Hills Regional Mental Health: In development in 2019
  14. Southwest Iowa MHDS Region: 844-673-4469

With knowing this information, what might be the issue with regional hotlines? Upon first glance? Every region has a different number. If I am a person in crisis, and I am not thinking the most clearly, how am I going to remember a number like this? I am not.

What Iowa needed is a number like 800-Bets Off for gambling in Iowa that is a statewide and highly publicized number that is easy to remember. What we had was a hodgepodge of numbers hard to remember.

Right now, the state of Iowa is developing a statewide crisis number that includes children services. This will be a far better system than the current one in Iowa and much more accessible.

Other Resources

Until then, an additional helpful site for help line resources is put together by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

As Iowa comes online, let’s find ways to promote our statewide number to make it a household name!

Discussion Question:

Did you know each region had a different crisis hotline number? Does this make sense to you?