Recently, mental health awareness has taken a front seat in society’s mainstream and here at the Machinists Union. In 2019, IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. created the IAM Addiction Services Program to help IAM members and their families struggling with alcohol and drug dependency.
“Calls to our mental health hotline have more than doubled since we first started this program. “We are currently putting 15 to 20 members a month in treatment,” said Vincent Ceraso, Director of the IAM Addiction Services Department. “The help is out there and the people that need the help are out there too.”
Since the pandemic, the world has seen an uptick in mental health cases. In July 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) was changed to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Like 911, the 988 number is shorter and much easier to remember. The hotline connects callers to mental health professionals who are trained to handle anyone experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. You can also call if you are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
As part of the new launch, a text and chat option was added and has proven to be one of the most popular ways of accessing help, especially for the younger generation. Later this year video chatting will be offered as an option.
Also added was a specified Veterans Crisis Line, which can be accessed by dialing 988 and pressing 1 or texting 838255.
By far the system has made improvements, but no rollout is perfect. For this service to be effective states have to have adequate funding and resources, and right now they don’t. “The 988 number only had $24 million dollars in funding in each of the first two years, but this year Congress has funded it with $442 million,” said Ceraso.
Aside from the 911 and 988 services, IAM members have an added resource at their fingertips. However, they don’t take the place of 988 or 911.
“Call 988 for crisis intervention, substance abuse, or mental health issues, and 911 if you’re going to hurt yourself, or someone else or end your own life,” said Ceraso. “Call the IAM’s mental health hotline if you are experiencing non-emergent physiological issues such as depression or anxiety. You will be connected to a doctor. When you call the addiction services hotline, you will get me. I will treat it like an emergency, but not 911 worthy, and get you into treatment within a day or two,” he added.
While the world has opened back up and returned somewhat back to normal, unfortunately, our mental health won’t bounce back as easily. The IAM remains dedicated to providing help and support to our members and their families.
The IAM Metal Health Hotline is 301-335-0735 and the IAM Addiction Services hotline is 1-800-240-4IAM or (4426).