The Pima County Health Department and community partners launched a one-stop website this week for finding mental health and substance abuse services and information.
Although the need for behavioral health services in the county is increasing, there are barriers to finding support, says Bonnie Leko-Shapiro, health department spokeswoman.
“This was envisioned as a centralized place that people can use to get started,” she said.
The Pima Helpline website, at pimahelpline.org, was developed by Healthy Pima’s Referral and Treatment Action Group, a community forum the health department coordinates in partnership with community stakeholders.
There are 81 treatment providers on the Pima Helpline website and well over 100 resources.
People can search for services a number of ways. For the most tailored search, people can fill out a checklist that includes location, keywords, payment options and the type of help needed in broad or narrow terms. The inquiry can be as broad as searching for mental health providers or as specific as searching for couples counseling or alcohol detoxification.
The site also has a directory of crisis and 24-hour hotlines. As well, there are educational resources, explaining types of treatment and signs of mental illness and drug abuse. And there are related resources on the site, such as housing support.
All providers on the site submitted their information, and the county expects the number of services on the site to grow, said Raul Munoz, a program coordinator with the health department.
He says the hotline was created to make it easier for people to find services.
“It becomes a little overwhelming, especially when you’re in a position of trying to seek help. A lot of times when people get frustrated, they just stop,” he said. “The main purpose of Pima Helpline was to really just try and make it user friendly and easily accessible for people to look for services here in Pima County.”
Before this website there were some national and statewide listings for behavioral health services but nothing local, said Dr. Steve Lee, a therapist at CODAC Health, Recovery & Wellness and co-lead with a Healthy Pima task force. He says being locally run is one of the advantages of the site.
The site is a community effort that will benefit all of Southern Arizona but especially Pima County, he said.
“I’m really happy that Tucson is coming together when we have the opioid epidemic and other substance abuse concerns,” he said.