By Michael Hernandez
CULVER CITY, CA—The nation’s largest substance abuse and mental health hotline—one of three centers licensed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA)—has reported a 100-fold increase in Covid-19 phone calls from February to March with an expected jump of 63 percent in April calls.
Kim Kowsky, a spokesperson for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, told the Citizens Journal Wednesday that Covid-19 phone calls had gone from 19 in February; to 1,900 in March. As of April 15th, Didi Hirsch had received 1,500 Covid-19 calls and was projecting 3,000 calls made to its 215 crisis volunteers and 70 staff members this month.
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, is also the largest of 160 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Centers in the nation and receives 11,000 calls or chats a month between its substance abuse and lifeline crisis lines. Didi Hirsch operates out of a 14,000 square-foot building at 4760 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culvert City, CA 92030 (the Suicide Prevention Center had a grand opening in February 2019). Current President and CEO is Kita Curry. Crisis counselors answered 130,000 calls and chats nationwide in 2019—a 30 percent increase over the previous year. One in five were from out of state
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services began transforming lives in 1942. Didi Hirsch’s suicide prevention program founded in 1958 was the nation’s first and most comprehensive and has served as a model for other organizations worldwide. It offers a continuum of care for people contemplating suicide, for their family and friends, and for those who are coping with the aftermath of an attempt or grieving the loss of a family member or friend.
Didi Hirsch establishing the Erasing the Stigma Awards in 1997 and also sponsors the Daniel Nickoll Training Academy. According to the Didi Hirsch mission statement: “Didi Hirsch transforms lives by providing quality mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services in communities where stigma or poverty limits access.” To view their website go to: https://didihirsch.org/
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected]