BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — Harford County residents now have 24/7 access to a crisis hotline for behavioral and mental health, and addiction services.

The hotline, 800-NEXT-STEP, came about through a partnership between the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UMUCH) and several Harford County health agencies.

“The hotline is a way for individuals to find help in one convenient location,” said president and CEO of UMUCH, Lyle Sheldon. “Many people with behavioral health issues come to the emergency room because they don’t know where else to go to seek help. The new hotline will provide the information they need in a timely manner.”

When someone in crisis calls the new hotline, they will reach a behavioral health expert who has access to the Mobile Crisis Team and up-to-date information about behavioral health and addiction.

Peer specialists who are in recovery themselves will also be available to callers.

“When Harford County citizens or families are in crisis, we want them to know they are not alone and help is available,” said Howard County Executive Barry Glassman. “The depths of addiction, depression, or thoughts of suicide can strike at any time, night or day. That is also a window of opportunity when access to a caring professional and connections to the right resources will save lives.”

Organizers are working to link the hotline to 2-1-1 Maryland, a 24/7 statewide health and human service referral provider, in order to share resources and provide a seamless approach to people in crisis.

An additional number, 410-874-0711, will connect callers to the crisis center when calling from outside Maryland.

The new crisis hotline is located at the Harford Crisis Center in Bel Air and will be open to the public in 2019.

More information about the crisis center will be provided in late October.

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