After a year that deeply affected the mental health of many, Dutchess County is making another tool available to address this struggle.

“The last 18 to 24 months have been extraordinarily stressful to all human beings," said Jean-Marie Niebuhr, deputy commissioner of behavioral and community health for the county. "And I think this app has something to offer for everybody.”

Dutchess’ HELPLINE Mental Health and suicide prevention app has been reimagined, with new features that aim to connect, as well as empower people.

What You Need To Know

  • Dutchess County's HELPLINE app has been remodeled and upgraded

  • The new app has more resources, including a service map and safety plans for those struggling with mental health

  • Android and iPhone users can use the app, called "Dutchess HELPLINE" 

“The user can actually be an active participant in identifying their treatment, in creating that safety plan that’s so important in ensuring that an individual stays safe in a time of crisis," Niebuhr said.

It comes at a critical time. From 2019 to 2020, drug overdoses increased in Dutchess County by 72%. According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths have also surged nationwide, up nearly 30%.

County Executive Marc Molinaro, who is a candidate for New York's 19th Congressional District seat, said the app will encourage a proactive approach from family and friends.

“This app gives an innocent bystander, a family member, a friend, the instant resource to interact with a professional," Molinaro said. "To find and connect with a service provider or some mental health support when it's needed.”

Other features include interactive safety plans, a mental health resource map and information about the lifesaving overdose drug Narcan.

Niebuhr is confident the app will save lives. She says she's seen the previous version of the app do just that, when an older man told her that he used the app to help his neighbor, who had been experiencing suicidal thoughts.

“He had the app on his phone, the old app, and started texting with HELPLINE through that app," Niebuhr said. "And he found it to be such a helpful resource, and ultimately, the neighbor got the help that he needed, and he was very grateful for that.”