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Crisis Text Line available

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The Lorain County Board of Mental Health is calling attention to a crisis resource available to residents who are seeking help but might not want to speak on the phone about it.

To receive support from the Crisis Text Line, residents should text the national keyword HELLO or the Ohio-specific keyword 4HOPE to 741741.

The service, which went into effect nationally in 2013, provides access to free and confidential support and information from a trained counselor within minutes.

Those seeking support are not charged if their cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint or Verizon. The messages don’t even show up on their phone bill.

Kathleen Kern, associate director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, said the local hotline received 14,730 calls in 2016.

“We’re really excited about also having the Crisis Text Line because it is much broader,” she said. “It can be used for issues like bullying, not wanting to go to school or anything really.”

Crisis Text Line is contacted by 50,000 U.S. residents monthly, with a majority experiencing some sort of a mental health issue. About 30 percent of the messages received by the nonprofit organization are from those with suicidal thoughts and depression.

The texting option is convenient for people who are too embarrassed to speak on the phone or want the conversation to be less personal.

“When a person is in need, they should have various ways to access help,” Kern said. “I tried it myself to see how it works, and I found the text line to be easy to use, with counselors who were responsive and knowledgeable.”

In addition to providing advice, the organization also collects data to determine mental health trends. Data from messages sent after 4HOPE help analysts determine trends in Ohio, while those sent after HELLO determine national trends. For example, the organization has found that substance abuse peaks nationally at 6 a.m., while people battling eating disorders text for help most often on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Counselors are volunteers who go through 34 hours of training, are older than 18 and have completed a background check. There are more than 1,500 counselors, and help is available at any time of the day.

Two other mental health resources are available to Lorain County residents by calling the Non-Emergency Navigator at (440) 240-7025 or the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at (800) 888-6161.

Contact Alexis Dill at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.

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