Help for Maine people facing mental health crisis 

June 7, 2022

While mental health challenges were all-too common before the pandemic, COVID-19 has exacerbated these conditions for many people in Maine and across the nation. Two in five American adults report experiencing anxiety and depression, and more than half of parents are concerned about their children’s mental well-being.  

For those who reach the point of mental health crisis, compassionate and competent help is available. Supporting Maine people struggling with a mental health crisis is central to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ work with partners throughout the state to strengthen the behavioral health system. With support from the Governor and Legislature, the Department is investing more than $230 million in state and federal funds over the 2022-23 biennium in the provider workforce and improving access to evidence-based behavioral health services.  

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) leads the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP), a collaborative initiative among state and local organizations committed to preventing suicide in Maine. The goals of the MSPP include: 

  • Increasing access to suicide prevention and intervention services in health care, including behavioral health settings; 
  • Improving integration of effective suicide prevention efforts within public and private organizations statewide; 
  • Educating professionals working with Maine people about suicide prevention, intervention, and reducing risk and promoting healing after a suicide death; and 
  • Conducting on-going statewide surveillance of suicide deaths and attempts, to identify trends and populations at increased risk. 

As noted in the Maine Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan 2020-2025 (PDF), MSPP initiatives that promote prevention of suicide deaths and suicide attempts include statewide training for educators, providers, and community members on evidence-based practices for identifying, screening, supporting, and referring individuals at risk of suicide to ensure they receive appropriate ongoing care (in partnership with NAMI Maine). Providers working with those at risk of suicide are trained to counsel individuals and families on reducing access to lethal means, including firearms, during periods of heighted suicide risk. For families and caregivers, the program promotes the use of the Lethal Means Safety Planning card, which identifies steps to reduce access to lethal means for a loved one at risk of suicide. The program also helps to lead the Maine Safer Homes Task Force, a statewide collaboration with the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Affairs and VA Maine Health Care to reduce the number of firearm suicides among Maine veterans. 

MSPP’s initiatives support community behavioral health providers that offer services and care coordination for youth at increased risk of a mental health crisis and their caregivers through the Youth and Family Navigators program. Sources of Strength, an evidence-based intervention to promote help-seeking and positive relationships with peers and adults, is promoted in middle and high schools across Maine. And MSSP supports schools and communities following a death by suicide to facilitate an appropriate response and promote safety for other youth at increased risk of suicide. 

MSPP encourages Maine people to reach out for help through greater awareness of a range of mental health resources, also including the Everyday Survival Guide campaign and an upcoming youth-focused campaign. 

MSPP’s efforts complement the work of the Department’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), which contracts with community providers to support mobile crisis teams who can directly respond to the location of a person in crisis or offer walk-in services at facilities that provide a home-like environment. These teams are specially trained to de-escalate mental health crises, assess needs, and provide an appropriate level of care in the least restrictive setting. OBH also contracts with community hospitals to provide mental health peer support specialists and substance use recovery coaches in emergency departments to assist individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. 

OBH is also preparing to implement the 988 Line, which has been designated nationally as a new, easy-to-remember dialing, texting and chat code for anyone experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis.  

How to get help 

A wide range of resources are available to Maine people experiencing a crisis or mental health challenge: 

  • The Maine Crisis Line: 1-888-568-1112. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Both  crisis hotlines are answered 24/7 and provide free, confidential support for individuals or families in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Resources are provided via phone, text and chat and support non-English speaking and deaf or hard of hearing callers. 

Intentional Peer Support Warmline: (866-771-9276) 

The Intentional Warm Line is available toll-free from anywhere in Maine, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a mental health peer-to-peer phone support line for adults, aged 18 and older, offering mutual conversations with a trained peer specialist who has life experience with mental health recovery. 

NAMI Teen Text Line: (207) 515-8398  

The NAMI Maine Teen Text Support Line offers connection, resources, and mental health support to youth, teens, and young adults throughout the state. This peer support text line is for Maine youth 13-24 years old, is staffed by trained individuals 18-24, and supervised by a behavioral health specialist. The line is open every day 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.  

FrontLine WarmLine: (207) 221-8196 or (866)-367-4440 

The Frontline Warmline serves frontline professionals – including in health care, EMS, education, and others - who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine. The line is staffed by behavioral health specialists who can help callers to deal with anxiety, irritability stress, poor sleep, grief or worry and connect them with additional supports. The line is available every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

StrengthenME Helpline: (207) 221-8198) 

Free stress management and resiliency resources to anyone in Maine experiencing stress reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.