Helpline Center prepares for the holiday season

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:05 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The holidays are filled with celebration but for some it can be a difficult time.

Whether it’s losing a loved one or being far away from family and friends.

The Helpline Center is here to lend an ear to those who may need someone to talk to.

In July of this year the center was part of a launch for a new 988 number.

This to help with accessibility and efficiency for all people.

CEO of the Helpline Center, Janet Kittams says since launching 988 the number of calls and texts have gone up.

“At the end of October, we had about eighteen hundred contacts just over that number and so we’re very pleased with that. In comparison to when it was a 1-800 number, we’ve seen about a seventy eight percent increase in the number of contacts,” said Janet Kittams, Helpline Center CEO.

And with the holiday season in full swing, the numbers could continue to rise.

“If people are having conflict in their lives with their family members often times that’s exacerbated during the holidays. Sometimes people can power through and make it through the actual holiday event but then afterwards it’s much of a letdown,” said Kittams.

Scott Wilson is a mental health counselor with 988 and says a lot of the calls he receives around the holidays involve family and friends.

“If they don’t have the family that they could normal go to or we’ll have people call in talking about how they’re husband or wife or their child died and this is one of the first years without them trying to do holidays,” said Scott Wilson, 988 mental health counselor.

He says this is why it’s so important for the Helpline Center to remain open at all hours.

“Especially in those holidays and especially in the hours late at night those are the times especially when people really need someone to be there,” said Wilson.

Saying it’s a large reason why he does his job.

“It’s definitely why I’m here, I know from my own life and I think everyone on some level knows what it’s like to have heartache and some of those really dark days,” said Wilson.

The Helpline Center wants to encourage anyone struggling to call 988.