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Technology & Innovation

Feb. 18 - Gov. Kemp, State Leaders Announce Smartphone App for Youth in Crisis

Category: Technology & Innovation

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

February 18, 2019 - Last week, Governor Brian P. Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, and state officials announced a new mobile application to support the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), a 24/7 hotline offering free and confidential access to services for mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Traveling across the state, Marty and I have heard firsthand from parents, students, teachers, and administrators about the growing mental health crisis in our schools and communities. That's why we're taking action to fund mental health intervention services, school security measures, and innovative tools like the My GCAL app," stated Governor Kemp. "I applaud the hard work of Commissioner Fitzgerald and the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities to build this resource for our state and lend a helping hand to those in need."

The My GCAL app - for Apple and Android smartphones - was designed to reach Georgia’s youth in times of need, and GCAL is staffed by caring professionals - including licensed clinicians - who are available 24/7 to address behavioral health crises, make referrals for treatment, and dispatch mobile crisis response teams.

“Right now, Georgia's youth face tremendous pressure to 'fit in' with their peers, and it can take a severe emotional and physical toll on their day-to-day lives," stated First Lady Marty Kemp. "As the parents of three teenage daughters, Brian and I understand that Georgia families face this challenge every single day. We're committed to standing with them in this fight."

At the announcement, Governor Kemp and the First Lady were joined by DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald; State Representatives Sharon Cooper (R - Marietta), Katie Dempsey (R - Rome), Terry Rogers (R - Clarkesville), and Kevin Tanner (R - Dawsonville); and State Senators Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), Brian Strickland (R - McDonough), and Blake Tillery (R - Vidalia).

“We know that when youth may be struggling or have a friend who needs help, they are much more likely to reach out via text rather than phone,” stated Commissioner Fitzgerald. “This app provides the same professional, confidential response as the GCAL Call Center through a method that works for teens. We hope that it will become a lifeline for youth seeking help.”

The app enables users to receive immediate support by communicating with caring GCAL professionals via text message, chat, or phone. While the My GCAL app is targeted at youth, GCAL is available to anyone in Georgia.

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) is a 24/7 behavioral health crisis call center operated by Behavioral Health Link through funding from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. GCAL provides free and confidential behavioral health crisis intervention and access to behavioral health services. Anyone in Georgia can call GCAL for help for themselves or on behalf of someone else at 800-715-4225 or via the My GCAL app. Callers actively experiencing a crisis can speak with live clinicians trained in de-escalation. When needed, GCAL can dispatch mobile crisis response teams to provide de-escalation on-site. GCAL information specialists can also provide referrals for treatment in a caller’s area.

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