The night before Minnesota's mental health helpline was going to shut down, the state's Department of Health came up with enough money to keep it going for another couple months.
The department says it's using $139,000 in federal suicide prevention funds to keep Minnesota connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That's enough money to last through September 29, the state says.
The temporary fix provides some time to find a longer-term solution for the financial problems that are closing Crisis Connection, which has been around for 50 years and is Minnesota's link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“With Minnesota facing historically high suicide rates and an opioid addiction epidemic, we were concerned about losing this life-saving resource that serves tens of thousands of Minnesotans every year,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.
Keeps Minnesota in the national network
Canvas Health, the non-profit group that operates Crisis Connection, says it's been losing money and no longer has the funds to pay counselors. This week's announcement that they'd be shutting down Friday, led to tributes like this one on the Star Tribune's editorial page, from people who feel they owe their lives to Crisis Connection.
The Health Department says people in a mental health crisis should now call the national lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The temporary funding means that number will still be answered in Minnesota around the clock by counselors familiar with the state's resources.
If Crisis Connection can get back on solid financial footing (you can donate here), it could conceivably step back into its old role. Meanwhile, the Health Department says it's talking to non-profits, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders about a long-term plan.