United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline To Support National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Heart of Florida United Way’s (HFUW) 2-1-1, a free, 24-hour information, referral and crisis helpline, was recently selected to become one of five nationwide National Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) call centers and one of two text centers by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. HFUW 2-1-1 was selected to represent FEMA Regions III and IV, but all participating centers will respond to contacts from all 10 FEMA regions.
“Being selected for this role is a true testament to our staff and everyone involved with 2-1-1,” said Caree Jewell, director of HFUW 2-1-1. “We look forward to putting our extensive years of experience and involvement at both the national and local level in disaster response to assisting those in need nationwide.”
As a designated DDH core region center, HFUW 2-1-1 will receive calls and texts from anywhere in the United States and its territories made to the National Disaster Distress Helpline. HFUW 2-1-1 specialists will provide crisis counseling to clients experiencing a variety of emotional issues due to a disaster such as grief over the loss of a loved one, symptoms of post traumatic distress, or hopelessness related to a devastating financial loss.
Heart of Florida United Way operates the largest 2-1-1 helpline in Florida and provides information and referrals to social services in 15 counties. In addition, it serves as the after-hours provider for the National Epilepsy Foundation Helpline and offers suicide prevention and crisis counseling as part of the National Suicide Prevention Line Network and the Crisis Hotline for Orange and Osceola Counties.
“Since the inception of 2-1-1, we have been committed to providing 100 percent accessibility beyond just phone service to include electronic communications such as chat, live email and text,” said Larry Olness, vice president of community services, Heart of Florida United Way. “We are seizing the opportunity to use our expertise in electronic communications nationwide and ultimately help more people.”
Last year, 2-1-1 responded to nearly 150,000 residents – phone calls, online chats, texts and emails – in Central Florida alone. Additionally, the local 2-1-1 also serves five surrounding United Way affiliates covering 15 counties.by