Help with a personal problem is just a phone call away.
One of the toughest aspects of facing a personal emergency — whether it's seeking care for aging parents or finding a job — is the feeling of being alone and not knowing where to turn.
The United Way of Champaign County recognizes how difficult circumstances like that can be. That's why it's teamed up with the county's mental health board to establish a local 2-1-1 service.
It's a non-emergency number that one can call to connect with individuals involved in health and human services and solicit advice about where to go for help. The number is up and running, the annual $25,000 to $30,000 cost to be shared by the two agencies. Calls are free, and the service is available all day, every day.
The reality is that all of us — at one time or another — will confront personal difficulties we cannot solve on our own. That said, people don't always know where to go for help or even where to go to find out where help is available.
How many people struggle with family issues that require professional expertise, whether it's individual counseling or institutional care? How many people in this difficult economy know where to go to obtain the assistance necessary to keep a family afloat and food on the table?
Because people have all kinds of problems, all kinds of help is available. But connecting someone in need with someone who can help can be a problem.
That's what 2-1-1 is designed to do.
The 2-1-1 service has a track record of success. It's available in roughly 90 percent of the country, attracting more than 15 million calls in 2012.
Kudos to United Way and the mental health board for their partnership in this important project. It represents an important step in helping people in need, whatever that need may be.