CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTRF) – It took a few months of working its way through the West Virginia legislature for Senate Bill 181 to make it to Governor Jim Justice’s desk. 

Now that it’s signed, the real work begins, or rather continues. The bill creates the 988 Mental Health Crisis System, which is just an expansion of what’s already being done to help mental health services in West Virginia. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis right now, call 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255.

It will allow us to have 24-hour, seven-day a week availability for our citizens. 

Terrance Hamm, Program Director, West Virginia 988

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, managed by First Choice Services, already provides that in West Virginia. With the number changing to the new 988 Mental Health Crisis System nationwide, the group wasn’t sure how they’d be able to keep up the same support with the expected increase in call volume for those in need. That is until Senate Bill 181 was signed on the dotted line. 

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In the afternoon you still have access to service. Or, if something happens at night, there will be someone here to answer that phone call.

Terrance Hamm, Program Director, West Virginia 988

Terrance Hamm is the newly appointed Program Director for West Virginia’s 988 Hotline. Now he’s looking forward to what’s to come, including hiring and training new counselors, so calls from across the state aren’t answered somewhere else. 

You can ask for help. You can remain anonymous in asking for help. And that you don’t have to be alone.”) 

Terrance Hamm, Program Director, West Virginia 988

He’s hopeful that the signing of this bill keeps mental health in the spotlight and encourages those tough conversations in person, not just over the phone. 

There’s always been a little bit of hesitation, and so by signing this bill it it certainly expands the opportunity to have these conversations. Hopefully it will translate where families will begin having these conversations. Not just professionals, but people at home.

Terrance Hamm, Program Director, West Virginia 988

While the 988 number won’t be active until July, there is help now.

Hamm says to remember you’re not alone and you don’t have to struggle by yourself.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK. That’s 1-800-273-8255.