One more resource for Minnesotans in mental health crisis is gone. As June ended, Canvas Health shut down its crisis hotline, Crisis Connection.
Like many other health needs statewide, funding for Crisis Connection was involved in the ongoing dispute between Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders. Canvas Health had sought $1 million to support the crisis call center, but that funding and the rest of the supplemental budget bill fell to Dayton’s veto pen in May.
During the 2018 legislative session, Canvas Health, the Oakdale-based nonprofit agency that operates the crisis services, requested long-term sustainable state funding to continue its services. “We are disappointed that these crisis services will not be funded by the state,” said Canvas Health CEO Matt Eastwood. “Our primary concern is for the health and safety of Minnesotans who rely on Crisis Connection as a lifeline during difficult times.”
After June 30, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) that were previously routed to Canvas Health’s Crisis Connection for triage and counseling will now be routed to another state that accepts overflow calls. People who call the Crisis Connection number (612-379-6363) will be redirected to other community resources.
Canvas Health is encouraging those who distribute the Crisis Connection number to remove it from their printed materials, web sites and other communications. “We regret that making these changes is the only option we have to maintain Canvas Health’s other mission-driven services, including providing mental health, substance use, mobile crisis, and emergency social services to those who have the most complex needs in our community,” Eastwood said. Crisis Connection’s phone lines received about 50,000 calls per year. About half of those calls came from people contemplating suicide or in the midst of mental health crises.
Canvas Health provides services to people struggling with mental illness, substance use, crisis, unstable housing and trauma. The nonprofit community health agency offers more than 35 programs at seven metro clinics. The agency acts as a safety net provider, serving people with complex needs who may not otherwise be able to afford care.
The hotline nearly closed last summer after a similar budget request failed, but Canvas Health diverted federal grant money to keep it afloat and received other support.
The shutdown comes amid increases in Minnesotans reporting anxiety and suicidal thoughts. The state’s suicide rate has been gradually increasing over the past decade, particularly among white, middle-aged adults, according to state and federal death record data.
People in crisis do have other options. Many counties operate their own crisis hotlines. The Minnesota departments of Human Services, Health and Agriculture are publicizing the availability of other mental health crisis line services. The state agencies are emphasizing that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will continue to be available at 800-273-TALK (8255). A list of 24/7 mental health crisis services is available at mn.state/dhs/crisis. In the Twin Cities metro area, people can call **CRISIS (274747) from a mobile phone. The mobile phone service will soon be available statewide. Text crisis services are available 24/7 by texting MN to 741741.
No interruption is expected in hotlines for gambling help, or for the Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Rural Helpline Crisis Connection had operated for almost 50 years.