News : Grant to Expand Mental Health Call Center
Knoxville, TN, USA, Sept 15, 2015 -- A recovery program put out a call for help, and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation answered.
The foundation awarded the Peer Recovery Call Center, a program of the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, a grant to expand its staff from three to five people, collect more data and increase awareness of the hotline.
The program, which Mental Health Association Executive Director Ben Harrington said serves as a model for other areas, has a dual purpose: to employ people who may have had difficulty keeping other jobs, and to be able to answer more calls from people who need support — and, when possible, call them back to follow up.
"Follow-up peer support from someone who is a peer, who has personally walked miles in the same shoes as our callers, is essential to ensure callers are supported and able to get the help they need," Harrington said.
All who answer calls at the center, which is at 865-584-9125 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, have themselves been diagnosed with mental illness. Call center manager Amy Rogerson said that helps them build a trust relationship with callers, who may worry about confiding in families or friends and be "frightened no one will understand what they are going through."
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"Peers do understand what others are experiencing as they struggle with the onset or escalation of symptoms," Rogerson said. "Our expertise and lived experience can be tapped to support and motivate others to get help, follow through with treatment and join us in recovery."
Call center operators are trained to identify callers' needs, find resources in the community and provide ongoing mentoring to encourage them to take action and to stick with treatment.
The grant was competitive. Harrington said one of the new operators has already started.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee:
Health Care/ Heath Care Insurance
Published: Thursday, September 17, 2015
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