How The Harris Center Crisis Line Works
After celebrity suicides, we are often left with thoughts of “what can I do to help a family or friend in a similar situation”?
The first thing you can do to help a someone who is having suicidal thoughts it to offer support. Let them know you are there to help. Take time to listen to them, learn about their struggles and simply ask them if there is a specific way that you can help?
Your support goes a long way in helping them to overcome a crisis, but more than likely you cannot spend 24 hours a day supporting them. In a situation where you are not available, you want to provide them with alternatives. One of those alternatives is a suicide crisis line.
In this article, I will talk with you about a local agency who provides suicide crisis line services. That agency is called Harris Center.
Continue reading and you will learn the following in this article:
- What is the Harris Center Crisis Line?
- Who manages this crisis line?
- When should you call?
- What number do you dial?
- How the crisis line works
- What happens if talking isn’t enough?
There is a lot to discuss so let’s start with the basics of what is the Harris Center Crisis Line.
What is the Harris Center Crisis Line?
This is a 24-hour phone line that can assist you, family or friends who may be experiencing a crisis situation.
Trained crisis counselors answer calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whether it’s New Year’s Eve, Labor Day or Thanksgiving someone will be there to answer your call. The Harris Center Crisis Line has served Harris County and surrounding areas since 2003.
What is Crisis Line Number?
The Harris Center Crisis Line number is 713.970.7000. After dialing this number select option 1.
Who Manages the Crisis Line?
Harris Center manages the crisis line. If you are familiar with the mental health system here in Houston, you likely remember the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (MHMRA Harris). Well, this name was recently changed to Harris Center.
Harris Center is the primary mental health service provider in Harris County. Harris Center offers inpatient and outpatient services to individuals with Mental Illness and Intellectual Developmental Disabilities. To learn more about either set of services call the Harris Center Crisis Line at 713.970.7000.
In the next section, we’ll discuss more reasons to call the crisis line.
What are Examples of Crisis Situations?
At one point in my career, I actually worked on the Harris Center Crisis Line.
After working overnight shifts for over 3 years and taking roughly 15,000 calls here are the most common reasons that people called the Harris Center Crisis Line.
Someone Simply Needs to Talk
The call center is designated as a crisis line although some calls came from individuals who simply needed to talk.
They weren’t suicidal, homicidal or need any resources. They called to vent about frustrations in their life or because they were simply curious about the crisis line.
If you are ever overwhelmed, upset or afraid these are all valid reasons for calling the Harris Center Crisis Line. They crisis counselors can help you through your situation and provide community resources if necessary.
Mental Health Resources Are Needed
Another common reason to call is to obtain mental health resources.
People can call the Harris Center Crisis Line for resources like outpatient or inpatient mental health services. You can also call to learn about involuntary commitment. Another appropriate reason to call is if you are seeking advice on how to begin a conversation with a family member about depression or suicidal thoughts.
If you are new to Houston and simply need information about outpatient clinics, anxiety support groups or where you go to file a mental health warrant the Harris Center Crisis Line can help you 24 hours a day.
There is an Active Crisis
These calls came from both individuals having a crisis and loved ones.
Note: If the situation is life and death skip the Harris Center Crisis Line and dial 911.
Examples of an active crisis include someone who is suicidal, homicidal or suffering from a psychosis. Psychosis is a term that means someone’s thoughts or perceptions are not aligned with reality. Someone who is hearing voices or seeing things (both are forms of hallucinations) could be described as having psychosis.
In these situations, the crisis counselor will speak with the individual to try calming them first and then work to connect them with the most appropriate help.
Whether it is you who is having suicidal thoughts or a friend, both are valid reasons to call the Harris Center Crisis Line.
What Happens When You Call the Harris Center Crisis Line?
When you first call the Harris Center Crisis Line and counselor will greet you.
Note: You do not have to provide your name when calling the crisis line.
It’s at this point where some callers simply hang up. They may be scared, intimidated, confused or even embarrassed. All of these are normal reactions and you shouldn’t be ashamed if you feel the same way. Whatever your emotion is at the time of your call, own it. Use that feeling to start the discussion.
If you are confused, start out by speaking to the crisis counselor about that confusion. Once you begin speaking you’ll start to feel less anxious and soon you will ease into the conversation.
After the introduction, you’ll want to tell the crisis counselor why you are calling. What are you looking to accomplish with this call? Is it just someone to vent about your frustrations? Did you have a random thought about suicide? No matter what your need is let the crisis counselor know this so that they can help you work toward a solution to your problem.
Some calls end in the caller receiving mental health resources. In other situations, callers need immediate assistance. This could include help contacting 911 due to a potential suicide attempt.
In the next section, we’ll discuss what happens if you need more than just telephone support.
What Happens If You Need Immediate Help?
The Harris Center Crisis Line is there to help you no matter the situation, even if it’s getting you to an emergency room.
Contacting 911 for a crisis intervention can either be done by the crisis counselor or caller. In this case where the caller dials 911 the crisis counselor will hang up to allow the caller to call 911 and then call them back in 5 minutes to learn about the outcome. The crisis counselor will then remain on the phone with the caller until 911 arrives at the home.
If the caller does not feel like they are capable of calling 911, a crisis counselor will step in and can call 911 with on a 3-way call. Again the crisis counselor will remain on the phone with the caller until 911 arrives.
Remove All Weapons
Anytime you call 911 for a crisis be sure to remove any weapons from around you. If there is a knife or gun place it in a back room.
The police are coming to help you, but they are still entering your home in a defensive mindstate. Remove all weapons to let them know you are committed to working with them.
You also want to remove anything you can use to harm yourself. Pills, a rope or anything else that you can use to hurt yourself should be placed as far away from you as possible. It could take several minutes for police to arrive so you don’t want any access to those items.
Police Are There To Help
Once the police arrive understand that they are there to help you. Police are not there to take you to jail. They are there to transport you to a hospital if needed. Although the initial call was for help, they can transport you to jail if you become violent with them or violate the law. As long as you are compliant with officers you will have no issues with those problems.
If Hospitalized Sign Consent Forms
When you speak with any medical professional, especially during a hospital admission a law called HIPPA protects your privacy rights.
HIPPA is a privacy law that prevents medical providers from talking to anyone about your medical care unless you give them permission. HIPPA law is so powerful that your doctor couldn’t speak with your spouse, child or parent without your permission.
Many clients are admitted to the hospital after a 911 call and forget to sign a consent form allowing family members to receive information.
If you are admitted to a hospital and you do not sign a consent form the hospital cannot reveal your location to friends or family who may call looking for you. Again if you want to give friends or family the ability to call you in a hospital, you must sign a consent form.
Helping a friend or family member in a crisis situation is admirable, but you also need a backup plan for the occasions that you cannot help. Educating that individual about the Harris Center Crisis Line is one of those options.
Crisis line workers have heard every crisis situation in the book, so there is nothing you can say that will shock or scare them.
If you, friends or family are having suicidal or homicidal thoughts the Harris Center Crisis Line can help you.
To get immediate assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year call the crisis line at 713.970.7000 and press option 1.
Have you ever had a crisis situation? How did you resolve it?
Nick Bryant is a Counselor with 10 years of experience working in community health. He enjoys concerts, mocking Dallas Cowboy fans and creating easy to understand community resources on his site HoustonCaseManagers.com. To become a more saucy social worker, hop on his free email list and receive weekly community resource guides delivered directly to your inbox.