|On October 7 2010, the St. Louis County Children's Service Fund in conjunction with Behavioral Health Response (BHR), and Youth In Need hosted a press conference announcing the launch of the St. Louis County Youth Connection Help Line.
This first-of-its-kind Helpline is funded by the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund which recently awarded $35 million to forty-four local nonprofit and government agencies to expand direct mental health and substance abuse services over the next 17 months to St. Louis County children, youth, and their families. In November 2008, St. Louis County voters passed a ballot measure, also known as Proposition 1 and Putting Kids First, which created a community children's service fund to provide mental health and substance abuse services for children and youth ages nineteen and under in St. Louis County.
This innovative Helpline, which is a collaboration between Youth In Need (YIN) and Behavioral Health Response (BHR), offers multiple access points for youth and families in crisis to quickly connect 24 hours a day, seven days a week to much needed resources. Youth and families can access the Helpline services by calling 314-628-2929 or 1-877-928-2929, texting 4HLP to 31658, or going to the nearest neighborhood Safe Place location. The texting functionality is anticipated to be live by the end of October.
Calls and texts are received at St. Louis-based BHR, where professional mental health counselors respond to each caller’s needs, dispatch Youth In Need’s Street Outreach Program staff as necessary, and offer linkages to appropriate services, particularly Key Partner agencies funded by the St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund. BHR has a 15 year history of providing crisis hotline services worldwide and is part of the National Suicide Prevention Life Line.
Youth can access another convenient entry point to services by going to a neighborhood Safe Place location. Safe Place, a national program that has been replicated throughout the country, connects youth in crisis to local shelters via community-based, youth friendly businesses. As part of this innovative project, Youth In Need’s Street Outreach Program team is reaching out directly to youth in St. Louis County neighborhoods, sharing information about the Helpline, and how to access its services. Youth In Need outreach staff will also be dispatched to transport youth in crisis from a Safe Place site or other location to an appropriate service provider.
Youth In Need coordinates the St. Louis regional Safe Place program, which was brought to St. Louis in 1995 through the support of QuikTrip Corporation. QuikTrip continues to be the primary partner supporting Safe Place in St. Louis and throughout the nation, where its stores serve as Safe Place locations, 35 of which are in St. Louis County. This project will facilitate further expansion of the 125 current Safe Place sites in the County to at least 175 neighborhood locations.
The Children's Service Fund is pleased to thank County Executive, Charlie Dooley, Police Chief, Tim Fitch, President and CEO of Behavioral Health Response, Lesley Levin, Jim Braun, President and CEO of Youth In Need, Executive Director of the National Safe Place Program, Laurie Jackson, and Terry Williams, Personnel Manager from QuickTrip for their comments and support.