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Here's how the Peoria-area 988 crisis hotline works, and how it's working out

People in the Tri-County area are using the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The three-digit phone number replaced the previous ten-digit number for behavioral health assistance last year. In Illinois, a call to 988 is triaged through a call center, or transferred to a mobile crisis response unit, said Jim Harryman, the 988 crisis services grant director at UnityPoint-UnityPlace.

Harryman said local crisis services in the Tri-County area receive about 350 calls a month.

Last year, mental health was identified as a major concern in the Tri-County area. Harryman said it's often difficult for people to break away from the stigma surrounding seeking behavioral health assistance. He thinks a phone option may make it easier for someone to reach out.

"You can get support for mental health support needs, substance use, initial support for crises, by just picking up the phone, and we're here to listen just on the phone or to come out and do a mobile response, where we're there to evaluate you and give you the resources that you may be seeking," he said.

Harryman said family members or friends concerned about a loved one can also call 988.

"If you're a family member, and you call mentioning that you are concerned about someone in the family and feel that they need support for mental health or substance use, then we are set up we do wellness checks, so we could go check on them directly in their home and check to offer services that they need," he said.

In Peoria County, callers can also reach out to UnityPlace directly at (309) 671-8084. In Tazewell and Woodford counties, the number is (309) 347-1148.

"For behavioral health, there's help and there's hope. And we certainly are here to provide that support for the communities that we serve," Harryman said.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.