NEWS // July 2, 2015


In an effort to support the already strong suicide prevention efforts in San Diego County, Optum Public Sector San Diego is funding Access and Crisis Line (ACL) CHAT services. Initially funded by the California Mental Health Services Authority, CHAT services is a crucial component for the next generation of suicide prevention efforts within our community. Adding CHAT to the existing ACL services supports the strong Suicide Prevention initiatives in the well-established Live Well San Diego vision to achieve a healthy, safe, and thriving region.

Moving to a technological solution for suicide prevention enables San Diego County residents to access online services Monday through Friday from 4pm to 10pm. People choose CHAT over picking up the phone for many reasons:

  • Shyness or Anxiety - No one wants to be judged, and sometimes it is easier express oneself when typing
  • Proximity to Others - People who live with others or are in a public place may not want to risk those people overhearing their problems
  • Hearing or Speech Issues - People with hearing or speech problems may have difficulty on the phone
  • Access - Few families have home phones anymore, and for people without cell phones, the Internet might be the only option
  • Avoiding Phone Records - When someone else pays the phone bill, the person in crisis may not want them to see they called a hotline

People who choose CHAT for the various reasons described above have different characteristics than those who call crisis phone lines. They tend to be younger and hold a higher level of stigma associated to mental health issues and treatment. They tend to be willing to discuss personal topics more easily, such as:

  • LGBTQ- Youth coming out issues
  • Bullying
  • Abuse- Child, domestic, and sexual
  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-Injury
  • Suicide

On August 31, 2014 Optum’s CHAT services was granted five year accreditation by CONTACT USA, the leading national accrediting body for online emotional support services. CHAT services were evaluated in four major areas of excellence deemed necessary and essential for operation: training standards, specialists’ standards, services standards, and technology platform.

“It is clear that the center’s leadership and staff are dedicated to providing the highest quality service possible. CONTACT USA commends Optum San Diego on their exemplary service and we’re happy to welcome them to the CONTACT USA network,” said Michael Reading, Vice Chair of CONTACT USA.

“We are very proud to use technology in innovative ways to reach San Diegans in need of mental health support and resources,” said Michelle Galvan, Executive Director of Optum San Diego Public Sector. “At Optum, we feel the responsibility to leverage the extraordinary abilities of our people, technology, ideas and resources to help the communities where we live and work.”

Click here to find out more about the Crisis and Line Chat services.

Funding for Access and crisis line services is provided by the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency