Connecting to Help Through the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s “Gateway”
Calling 2-1-1 Can Connect You to a Wealth of Information & Resources
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay doesn’t strictly define the term “crisis.” Each person’s struggle and circumstances are unique. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to face your crisis alone. Help is just a phone call away. Just grab your phone and dial “2-1-1.”
What is 2-1-1?
In the same way 9-1-1 connects you to emergency police, fire and medical services, 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number that connects you to information regarding health, human and social service organizations in the community. Years ago, the Federal Communications Commission approved 2-1-1 for nationwide use as an abbreviated, quick-access number. You can call 2-1-1 in most counties in the United States and every county in Florida. The number is answered by local non-profit organizations. In Hillsborough County, 2-1-1 is answered 24 hours a day at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s Gateway Contact Center. 2-1-1 provides an answer to the question of “I need help. I’m overwhelmed. Where do I go?”
At the Crisis Center, calls are answered by highly trained Intervention Specialists. These caring individuals listen to the specific problems of each caller and ask questions so they can have a comprehensive understanding of the caller’s situation. They have a database with over 4,000 non-profit organizations and government programs at their fingertips, and the information is continuously updated at the Crisis Center.
Some examples of situations where someone might find help through 2-1-1 include:
-“My child is 18 months old and isn’t walking yet. How can I find out if they are ok?”
-“I’m working two jobs and can’t afford child care. Is help available?”
-“My second grader is being bullied at school. What can I do?”
The Crisis Center’s Intervention Specialists do more than just provide information and referral help. Specialists can provide emotional support to callers and are trained to help people who indicate they are considering taking their life. In these situations, the Specialist has an in-depth and candid conversation with the caller and will talk with them until they’re safe.
Additional support is available in these extreme circumstances. People who have a conversation pertaining to suicide can opt into our Care Coordination program where a Crisis Center staff member will make follow-up calls over a number of weeks. The Care Coordinator helps implement a safety plan that encourages positive activities, beneficial relationships and connection to mental health resources.
Not just 2-1-1!
2-1-1 isn’t the only “hotline” answered in the Gateway Contact Center. The Crisis Center also answers local calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK); the Florida Veterans Support Line (1-877-MYFLVET), which provides peer support to veterans in a five-county area; statewide calls from the Florida Substance Abuse Hotline (1-800-662-HELP); and the Child Development Infoline (813-425-GROW), which is funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.
Going Beyond the Phone Call
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay connects people to resources throughout the community. This is why the organization is the community’s “gateway” to help, hope and healing. However, the Gateway Contact Center is just one of many services operated by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
Corbett Trauma Center is the Crisis Center’s trauma therapy division. Children and adults impacted by severe emotional trauma can come to one of the Crisis Center’s three locations in Hillsborough County for counseling sessions with a therapist. Corbett Trauma Center also houses Hillsborough County’s rape crisis center, which does forensic medical exams and provides victim advocacy services to sexual assault survivors.
TransCare Medical Transportation has served the community since 1986. TransCare’s vehicles respond to 9-1-1 emergency medical calls in Tampa and also provide Baker Act mental health transportation and Marchman Act substance abuse transports in Hillsborough County. In addition, TransCare’s ambulances and medical vans provide non-emergency wheelchair transport and facility-to-facility medical transportation throughout the county.
If you or someone you know are ever in a crisis, just remember 2-1-1. If you want to learn more about our work in the community, you’re invited to take a tour of our facility. Tour dates and more information about the organization can be found at CrisisCenter.com.