El Paso mental health agency assists those in need with hot line, phone app

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An estimated one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to El Paso mental health provider Emergence Health Network, which also runs a crisis hotline.

Also, says EHN, 90 percent of people who die by suicide are also believed to have had a mental disorder. However, either because of fear or lack of information only 60 percent of those suffering from a mental health condition seeks treatment.

One helpful resource EHN provides to the community is its 24-hour Crisis Hotline, which consists of of qualified mental health professionals, as well as on-call professionals who are available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

EHN Crisis Hotline

Crisis Line specialists are prepared through education and training to assist distressed callers in verbal de-escalation of any situation.

EHN Crisis Unit Manager Tara Blunk says, “my hotline specialists are especially trained to provide intervention type services. What are the types of things that you can do for yourself to help you feel better right now, what can you do physically, emotionally, mentally, to pull yourself out of what’s happening right now.”

Blunk says the majority of calls are from people that are having a really bad day, and they simply need someone to talk to.

She also said if someone happens to continually struggle during a call, the crisis specialist might refer them to come into a crisis unit. This doesn’t mean that they will necessarily be admitted to a mental health facility for treatment, but they would get the opportunity to talk to a specialist face-to-face.

EHN also has a Mobile Intake Crisis Unit (MICU), a clinic on wheels that goes to different locations, allowing residents of a community to have access to psychiatrists remotely.

EHN Is the behavioral health authority for El Paso County. EHN staff members are committed to assisting individuals with mental illnesses, intellectual/ development disabilities, and substance abuse issues. They work to help those individuals and their families find treatment and resources to help with their disabilities, substance abuse or mental illnesses.

As the largest mental health provider in El Paso County, EHN has 19 service locations that serve a wide variety of the EL Paso population, including military veterans, the homeless, and individuals in the LGBTQ community.

Launched in 1966, the Emergence Health Network is now one of 39 Local Mental Health Authorities in Texas.

“We have a lot of success stories. If you look at any of our programs, you’re gonna find individuals who have been able to be more than their diagnosis,” said EHN Chief of Staff Rene Hurtado.

In 2016, EHN launched an innovative app called Mental Health and U. MH & U was created to improve access to mental health services in the El Paso community, as well as help those experiencing a mental health crisis to get the help they need.

It was also created to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of mental illness.

With just a click of the app button, people obtain helpful local and national information such as frequently asked questions, as well as immediate contact with the Crisis Hotline.

Hurtado says the reason behind EHN’s decision to create the app was to become, “hip”with the times. Nowadays, everyone has a phone permanently attached to their hand, so why not create an app that is accessible to everyone?

“None of us remember phone numbers anymore, so with the app, you don’t have to remember the crisis line number, it’s right on your phone. You press the red icon on your screen and you’re talking with a mental health professional,” Hurtado said.

For more information on the EHN app and crisis line, click here.

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