Friday is 2-1-1 day. It's a day to honor and recognize the workers at the United Way's 2-1-1 line.
A lot of people might not have known about or used that line until the pandemic. In the past two years, it's been a way to get answers about where to get COVID-19 tests, how to find a vaccine appointment and so much more.
The 2-1-1 employees have answered more than six million phone and internet questions about COVID-19, but that's not the only area they're seeing a higher volume.
The line has also served as a lifeline for people experiencing a mental health crisis. It was linked to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services so counselors could offer support to anyone, anywhere and anytime.
"When someone calls 2-1-1 with a crisis or insecurity, just having a supportive individual really listen, and more importantly, address critical human service needs is very important to us," Program Manager Laura Falcon said.
Last year alone, the line received more than 124,000 calls. In 94% of those, the caller said their "state of crisis" diminished before the call ended. Only one percent of those calls were escalated to 9-1-1 for further help.
"I was approached by someone that I know who had had a crisis with her own teenage daughter and had used our services through DCF. To find help, and the relief that she expressed at being able to connect to those services. It was it was moving, it was really moving, it reminded us of how important it is, whether it's a teenager or a child or a single adult, facing a crisis and is alone and can find that help over the phone," United Way of Connecticut President and CEO Lisa Tepper Bates said.
While the 2-1-1 line will be available for questions ranging from childcare to mental health support, the National Suicide Prevention lifeline is developing a similar, easy-to-remember number for help: 9-8-8. It'll be effective in July.