24-hour mental health hotline now available in Pima Co. - Tucson News Now

24-hour mental health hotline now available in Pima Co.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A popular behavioral health resource in southern Arizona is about to become even more popular.

Effective immediately, operators of the Hope Inc."Warm Line" are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hotline, 520-770-9909, is free to anyone who lives in Pima County.

"Whether it's grief or someone in someone's family experiencing mental health or substance abuse disorders, these are people we can help," said Lauryn Bianco, director of development and community outreach at Hope, Inc. "Also, any kind of event in one's life that is unanticipated can bring about a whole host of emotional reactions."

The hotline was first introduced in the 90s, and received about 80 calls a month while open only a few hours a day.

Today, Warm Line receives more than 2,500 calls a month, a number that's only expected to grow with round-the-clock availability.

According to Dan Haley, chief executive officer of Hope Inc., mental health awareness skyrocketed across Pima County after the January 8th, 2011 shootings.

"What I find interesting is every time there's a big issue, there's always stuff that follows that so beneficial to the community," Haley said. "January 8th really gave us an opportunity to look at how we were handling things, how were we talking to people, how were we working with stakeholders, law enforcement and the courts."

Haley said he believes the community "really stepped up" to make the changes it needed. 

The changes at Hope coincide with Cenpatico Arizona being named the the new regional behavioral health authority for eight counties across southern Arizona.

Cenpatico's contract officially begins on Oct. 1, and is worth a reported $600 million annually, providing more than 50,000 people in the region with behavioral health services. 

Many of those people are covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS - also known as Arizona's Medicaid program.

The change in oversight marks the end of a 20-year run for the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona as the region's behavioral health authority.

"The players are changing, but the service will be the same," Haley said.

Cenpatico's new three year contract is expected to cover Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz and Yuma counties.

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