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New peer support phone line to open up

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE 8 News) – Mental health consumers in Louisiana looking for a supportive ear and encouraging voice as they navigate recovery have a new tool with a peer-supported Warmline offered by Magellan Health Services, Inc. in collaboration with Start Corporation.

The Louisiana Warmline is a non-crisis toll-free phone line staffed by trained and certified peer support specialists providing confidential and non-judgmental peer support. The specially-trained peer operators provide a message of hope to callers who may feel disabled, abandoned, or isolated.

This service, which is open to all adult Louisiana residents, starts with the premise that people have learned to make meaning of their life experiences and relationships, and, as such, want to support others in discovering their strengths.

"Our goal for the Louisiana Warmline is to offer support and talk through problems, thereby eliminating crisis situations. Being able to talk with someone who might have been through a similar experience can be very beneficial," said Mary Russo, administrative director of Start Corporation. "Our operators are taught not to diagnose or to treat, but simply to listen and reflect back what callers say, bringing in their own experience when relevant. The Louisiana Warmline serves as a diversion from ‘hotlines' or crisis line and emergency services when the caller is not in crisis but needs someone to listen. Callers speak with trained peer support specialists who provide empathetic listening and advice based on experience through their own recovery and resiliency."

Dr. Craig Coenson, chief executive officer of Magellan in Louisiana, echoed the critical role peers play in the state's evolving behavioral health system. "Recovery and resiliency are core principles at Magellan, where we believe all of our members, regardless of their diagnoses or medical history, can build a life filled with meaning and purpose. Part of finding that road to recovery is getting through some of those everyday stresses and struggles that can derail you. The Warmline offers people help getting through the bumps in the road before they become crisis," Coenson said. "Time and time again, we see the power of peer specialists – specially trained individuals with their own experiences. That is why this investment in the people of Louisiana, regardless of whether or not they are a member, is so important to Magellan."

The Warmline is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and is available toll-free at 1-800-730-8375.

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