Help 4 WV Connects West Virginians with Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Services
Six months ago, First Choice Services, with funding from the Department of Health and Human Resources, launched Help 4 WV, a text, chat and call line. Although the program is new, early data shows it’s doing what it’s supposed to – connecting those in need with preexisting services.
“I smoked weed for the first time when I was 8 years old, which kind of progressed,” says JaimeeMoffitt, a phone operator at the Help 4 WV call center and a former addict.
“There was a lot of violence in the home so I used it as an escape from that and that just kind of progressed and I did some other things here and there.”
Moffitt says the first time she did cocaine she was 12.
“At first it’s such a euphoric feeling that it’s kind of hard to describe,” she says. “Because it is an amazing feeling which is why people keep doing it. But doesn’t take long before those effects wear off and you continue to progress in your disease and you have to have it. When you have to use something in order to function in order to be well then it’s not so fun anymore.”
Moffitt spiraled downward. She left her daughter with the daughter’s father, started making and selling meth and got caught in a cycle of jail and rehab. Finally, she was sent to a facility in Huntington and enrolled in a 12-step program. She has now been clean for three years and says her experience gives her a unique perspective at her job at the Help 4 WV call center where she spends every day connecting West Virginians with facilities that help people deal with behavioral health or substance abuse issues.
When people call the helpline, Moffitt says she knows exactly what they are going through. “That is the entire reason I’m able to do what I do here at First Choice,” she says.
Almost six months after its launch, Help 4 WV has received more than 900 calls and referred more than 650 of those callers to a facility or provider.
“If someone calls in they typically tell us that they need help with a substance abuse or behavioral health issue they’ll generally tell us a little bit about what’s been going on with them – what kind of substance abuse problem they’re having and then talk to us about the treatment options available in their area,” says Heather McDaniels, the Help 4 WV program director.
McDaniels says each day they take dozens of calls – as time goes on more and more West Virginians are calling in for help.
“While they’re on the phone with us we go ahead and connect to the facilities with them on the line – so it’s like a three way call – so that we know when we get off the phone with them they have an appointment and when they’ll be seen,” she says.
McDaniels says that Help 4 WV is the first program of its kind in West Virginia. It not only gives struggling individuals and families somewhere to call, and compiles state resources, but also helps those without insurance fill out Medicaid applications.
She says it’s too early to tell whether or not those who call are actually following through with rehab like Moffitt did, but invited me to check back in a couple of months. She suspects the results will be good.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.