About Bridge2Help

Bridge2Help 1st Response


Since 1957, we have worked to break the stigma associated with mental illnesses and empower our communities and organizations to seek the necessary support to prevent and overcome mental disorders.

About Bridge2Help 1st Response Program:

Bridge2Help 1st Response Program is a virtual/remote initial response service for both, people dealing with emotional, mental health issues, and people needing assistance in their efforts to help others. Initially, Bridge2Help 1st Response, will be available on specific days and times in Illinois. Outreach for the use of this service is through school communities.


Many parents, teachers and adolescents are experiencing a variety of exceedingly difficult issues, including mental health concerns, drugs, alcohol, physical abuse and bullying. They do not know where to turn for help without bringing attention to themselves or the individuals who they are trying to help. Unfortunately, the stigma is still alive and well.


Researchers have collected data to gauge the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), clinical depression, and substance abuse or dependency. Findings show that almost 50% of our youth have experienced one or more traumatic events in their adolescent years and approximately 40% have witnessed violence in person. As a result, adolescents need support and help they are not currently getting. Those who do not have healthy outlets such as someone to talk to, religious affiliations, and school-based programs, often lash out in frustration, resulting in poor choices that can be harmful to themselves or others.


The MHAGC Bridge2Help 1st Response Program is an initial first step when people, who do not know what to do, need to talk to someone and work out a plan for help; for themselves, their child, their teen, or their student, privately and anonymously.

Mental Health Costs

  • Mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.
  • Mental illness is associated with increased occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer.
  • One-half of all chronic mental illnesses appear by the age of 14
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. in ages 15-44.
  • Absences from work account for over $31 billion.
  • Rates for both intentional injuries (e.g., homicide, suicide) and unintentional injuries (e.g., motor vehicle) are 2 to 6 times higher among people with a mental illness.
  • People with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression are at least 50% more likely to be overweight or obese.

Bridge2Help 1st Response Program Objectives

  • Offer people who may be in great distress, including teens, parents, and teachers, the benefit having someone listen, and respond, when they need immediate answers to issues affecting either themselves or someone they know.
  • Offer people who may be seeking a mental health professional anonymity.
  • Offer people assistance in identifying the nature and seriousness of their concerns.
  • Offer people information and support, to help them clarify their thinking.
  • Offer people, such as students, parents and teachers a compassionate and safe environment where they can ask for help.
  • Offer people support, when it’s needed the most – before dire decisions are made.
  • Offer people help to feel more confident in reaching out to, and receiving help from, a medical/psychological/psychiatry professional, after the call.
  • Offer people someone to talk to while they decide whether they want to seek professional help.
  • Offer people help to examine all the options available, including referrals to mental health service providers who will meets their needs.
  • Offer people actions to consider.
  • Offer people support so they can agree to one or more actions they will take after the call.
  • Offer people mental health professionals who will meet virtually with them.
  • Offer people trained professionals who deal with the silence and the trauma that often comes with these types of sessions. Who then may organize face to face appointments with other professionals for further support and/or therapy.

Bridge2Help 1st Response endeavors to end self-medication and suicide attempts, by creating a safe, anonymous virtual environment, in which people can see they are not alone, enabling them to open themselves up to help


MHAGC has been providing referral to mental health services since 2000. When people call us for help, we match them with one of three options based on the information they provide, and their needs.  However, often someone simply wants to talk to someone as a first step, so they can decide what they should do. Many teachers have stated that they are dealing with issues and would like someone they could call to ask for direction. They hesitate to contact a professional, because they believe they may be creating a bigger problem, for the person they are helping, than the one they are trying to solve. The stigma deters them from sharing the information about students or their families and they feel they do not have the tools to manage many situations.


The MHAGC Bridge2Help 1st Response service is for:


  • Individuals who simply do not know how to deal with an emotional/behavioral situation
  •  and need to speak to someone to understand what is happening.
  • Adults concerned about a child or young person who may need help.
  • Parents and caregivers who are concerned about a child or young person.
  • Students who do not know where to turn.
  • Education professionals calling for advice (including teachers, social workers, guidance counsellors, etc.).
  • Individuals in work environments who want to discretely get help.


The Plan

  • MHAGC will expand their support services by providing Bridge2Help 1st Response contacts with referrals to mental health professionals as the first step to getting them the help they need.
  • MHAGC will inform the individuals who call that the Bridge2Help 1st Response call is fully confidential and anonymous. No name or any other contact information will be requested or stored. However, if they provide information that indicates someone may hurt themselves or others, we will pass this on to the appropriate agencies. We will also pass on details of any criminal offence that has been committed, if that information is shared.
  • Individuals will have one virtual therapy session with a professional for the initial communication. They will then be referred to an individual or service that can help should further assistance be needed or requested.
  • Session notes will be taken and stored under the username the individual creates.  However, individual contact information, other than what the individual does share, will not be stored. No information will be shared with anyone. If the individual has been referred to another service MHAGC will provide them with the necessary information required to take the next step.
  • The objective is to help individuals deal with mental health issues as they arise, getting help comfortably so they can determine the next step in their action plan of action and address a manageable issue before it becomes a major one. This will help to prevent mental health issues from accelerating, which often happens without professional help. 
  • The program will hopefully reduce comorbid disorders

Each year we partner with thousands of young people,teachers,parents,and employers to make
mental health a prioritythrough awareness and empowerment

Our tested, research-based education programs and resources serve to equip you with the right knowledge, skills, and tools to tackle mental health issues for effective identification, prevention, and support.





James D'mello

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