The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline has received one of its largest grants to date. The nonprofit has been awarded $100,000 from the Idaho Division of Veteran’s Services. The hotline, which started almost three years ago, has grown to a 24/7 service for people dealing with a variety of mental health issues – including suicide.
Hotline director John Reusser says the grant will be used to help pay for operating expenses. He says 23 percent of the calls last year came from veterans or relatives of veterans, which made the hotline a good fit for the award.
Reusser says at the core, volunteers are still the most important part of the operation.
“I am probably most pleased by the commitment of our volunteers and staff to our mission," says Reusser. "Just how much they give of their time and their energy and emotionally to support our callers and to help us fulfill our mission.”
A new national study indicates a shift in thinking when it comes to mental health. A majority of those surveyed say they value mental health and physical health equally. But Idaho remains one of the states with a high suicide rate, and low access to mental health care.
The hotline doesn’t have a consistent funding stream from the state. But Reusser says he’s seen a positive change in attitudes about mental health issues in Idaho.
“I’m really optimistic that things are kind of changing in Idaho in terms of recognizing mental health as a priority and funding of it as a greater priority. It really does feel like there’s a greater understanding of that need.”
The next training to become a volunteer at the hotline begins October 3rd.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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