Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CONTACT Pittsburgh Crisis Hotline May Close

The board of directors of the telephone hotline, CONTACT Pittsburgh, has made a recommendation to dissolve the organization and to close their doors. This is pending a membership vote of the volunteers June 29. Executive Director Christy Stuber says after examining their strategic plan, reviewing historical data and engaging a consultant to conduct an external scan, they have established some trends that have occurred in the way CONTACT Pittsburgh does business. She says this action was taken because of the addition of a couple telephone hotlines in the market that really changed their environment. Stuber says CONTACT Pittsburgh is no longer the dominant or primary organization providing emotional crisis services in the Pittsburgh region.

Stuber, who has been Executive Director of CONTACT Pittsburgh for three years, says they don't view their closing as a failure in anyway, but as a positive result of the work they've done to raise the level of awareness of emergency crisis intervention. She says there has been a change in mental health services in the region that has impacted CONTACT Pittsburgh. She says those services are typically or better provided within a continuum of care where people are able to receive different levels of service depending on their needs. Stuber says other hotlines in the area are able to provide more in depth services to the callers perhaps in traditional counseling, follow-ups or referrals in a way CONTACT Pittsburgh is not able to.

CONTACT Pittsburgh was established in 1971 as an entirely grassroots, volunteer-based organization. It is currently run by a small staff of four pepole who support the organization's volunteers who work the telephone hotlines. They take calls offering emotional support to people trying to deal with a variety of issues.

Stuber says the decision to close CONTACT Pittsburgh is not final. The hotline itself is still running. She anticipates it will continue to operate for an indefinite time after the June 29 vote. Stuber wants to make sure people know they can still call 412-820-4357 for support. Once the vote occurs, there will be a transition plan worked out to ensure the people who use their services will have appropriate resources elsewhere.

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