Counseling now offered after-hours through crisis line

Mental+Health

Call 1-855-384-1800 to talk with licensed mental health professionals outside normal NMU Counseling Center hours. This new service for students is free, and open on weekends. Photo courtesy of Madison Inouye from Pexels.

Jesse Wiederhold

NMU launched a new mental health service which is available to students this week. The new service, in collaboration with Health Advocate, a team of health/medical experts, is going to be operating after hours to provide crisis counseling on demand. 

This means that between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. students will have access to professionals who can talk through mental health issues on the phone. The service is open whenever NMU Counseling is closed; which means weekends are covered too.

“Students can access licensed counselors after hours, in other words when the on-campus counseling center is closed,” said NMU Dean of Students and Student Services, Christine Greer. “Students who are experiencing a crisis, who really need to talk to someone right then, can call this service.”

According to Greer, “the Retention Committee has been talking about the need for this for several years. Housing and Residence Life and our Police Department have also been discussing this need for years.”

She also explained that those departments are the ones who end up dealing with late night mental crisis situations. That is why they have also encouraged this service to become implemented. Until now, Greer said that “the only option… was to take students to the hospital for an evaluation.” There are some local Marquette Health Advocate workers involved in the staffing of this. Many of them are remote though, but importantly they are available for students when they need them.

Greer attributes the unprecedented need for this line is COVID-19. It has pushed many over the edge, whether that be that COVID-19 has affected their daily routine, work, or if it caused social isolation. None of these things are “normal” and that makes people uneasy. For those with pre-existing mental health issues, the pandemic has likely exasperated them. People are finding themselves with less free time, or more free time. This can also lead to too much time for negative thinking, or too little time for positive thinking. 

“We hope students take advantage of this opportunity. The service is available whenever the counseling center is closed, so that includes the time between Christmas and New Years,” said Greer. “Our telehealth model at the counseling center right now is limited to students who are in Michigan, either living on or off campus during the semester or at their home in Michigan,” she added. “After the initial crisis call, this company will help get our students connected to a local counselor if they need ongoing counseling.”

The new crisis phone number is 1-855-384-1800, and to reiterate: the number can be called any time the counseling center is not open. In general, that is 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and then on weekends. If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, that’s exactly what this number is for. Do not hesitate to call for help. The NMU Police Department can be reached at (906) 227-2151, and the NMU Emergency Room can be reached at (906) 449-3560. If your situation is an emergency, call 911 for emergency dispatch.