A new mobile application can connect young Georgians who are experiencing mental health issues directly to people trained to help them.
The “My GCAL” app was designed for Apple and Android smartphones. It enables users to connect directly with the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), a 24/7 hotline that offers free and confidential access to services for mental illness, substance abuse and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The app enables direct communication with GCAL professionals by text and chat in addition to voice calling.
“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,” said Judy Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities. “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.”
While it can be utilized by anyone with a compatible smartphone, Gov. Brian Kemp said the app is especially important for the Georgia’s youth.
"Traveling across the state, (my wife) Marty and I have heard firsthand from parents, students, teachers and administrators about the growing mental health crisis in our schools and communities,” Kemp said. “That's why we're taking action to fund mental health intervention services, school security measures and innovative tools like the My GCAL app.
"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," he added.
GCAL is staffed by 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," Marty Kemp said. "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."