BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local) – When the global pandemic began this past spring, calls to The Crisis Center doubled – reaching 4,000 calls a month, according to the center’s Executive Director, Meg McGlamery.
For the past 50 years, the Crisis Center has been a safe place for people to turn when experiencing a personal crisis or mental health issues.
“We are there 24 hours a day every day of the year. So even though COVID-19, there is somebody there to answer the calls,” McGlamery said. “What’s so strange about this time is that we’re all in it together, yet we’ve never been so alone. So all of us are going through this together. We are in this crisis together.”
The center is home to three main divisions: suicide intervention and prevention, sexual assault response and prevention, and substance abuse help and support.
“We respond without judgment and with unconditional positive regard. So no matter what the problem is, no matter how small or how big, we take everything very seriously. None of us are immune to crisis. We look at people on social media and think they’re doing great, but because of the stigma about personal crisis and mental illness, we may never know,” said McGlamery.
McGlamery says the center’s goal is to connect people to the right resources to start a healing process. “We always like to say ‘hear, help, heal.’ That’s with the crisis center is all about.
If someone reaches out to you during a time of crisis, McGlamery says the best thing to do is to listen and hear them.
“They have trusted you with this information, and it was really hard for them to come forward to tell you. So acknowledge that courage. Acknowledge that strength. And if they’re open to it, suggest calling the crisis center,” McGlamery said. “If the person in crisis is not open to making a call, we suggest that the friend or family member ask if it’s ok for them to make the call with that person on the line. And if they’re not willing to do that, the friend can call us directly. What we tell everybody is to trust their instincts, no matter what. And make that phone call.”
Because call volume has increased drastically, McGlamorly says the need for volunteers has increased. Volunteers can work from home to answer calls and online chats through an anonymous computer system.
“Our shift managers are there listening to the calls if anyone needs any additional help,” said McGlamery.