NAMI to start crisis hotline

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

If you’re in the midst of a mental health crisis after hours in Sandpoint, you don’t have many places to turn.

You could try the emergency room at the hospital, sure. But that’s going to net you a huge bill, and chances are, you probably can’t afford it. Other than that, there are few places or professionals people can rely on to handle emergencies.

For mental health nonprofit NAMI Far North officials, the lack of resources for the community’s most vulnerable residents is a troubling reality. In response, they’re launching North Idaho Crisis, a hotline staffed by licensed professionals able to talk locals through a crisis and, if need be, contact law enforcement for further assistance.

While hotline organizers are starting out small as a part-time service, the idea is to establish the program as a cost-effective and reliable service for the region. That will hopefully provide the foundation for a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline, according to program director Catherine Perusse. NorthIdahoCrisisLogo-WEB

“You’ve got to start out small and prove your value,” Perusse said.

The NAMI team takes inspiration from similar hotlines in several small communities around the Northwest, including Hamilton, Mont. They say there’s a tried-and-true model for the North Idaho community to easily adopt.

“If Hamilton, with a population of 4,500, can have a mental illness crisis center, why can’t we?” said NAMI board member Ann Ferguson.

Perusse’s goal is to have the hotline up and running by Jan. 1. They’re currently seeking licensed professionals willing to work the hotline on an evening-by-evening basis, which is the project’s primary expense. Otherwise, costs are relatively low.

According to Ferguson, NAMI Far North officials have already secured support from several local organizations. Among the strongest support comes from the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, which has offered to fund the hotline staffing costs for a month.

Residents have a chance to learn about the project in more detail at an upcoming community meeting. NAMI representatives invite the public to drop by Sandpoint Community Hall 12 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 to learn more.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.