CICS in the Real World
Cheryl Plotz has worked at the Foundation 2 Crisis Center for 38 years. In that time, she’s seen a lot.
“We have been answering calls from all over the state since the ‘80s,” she said. “When the regions broke out, we were sort of like, ‘Well, we’ve kind of been doing this already.’”
Referring to the implementation of 14 mental health and disability service regions across the state, Plotz and her staff at Foundation 2 began fielding crisis line calls for the CICS region, at first only getting a handful, and then watching that number skyrocket.
“Sometimes we’re just with people and talk about how devastating that loss can be to you. We’ve talked to people who lost children to suicide, who have lost parents or siblings to suicide,” she said. “Everything from cancer, to my husband lost his job, to my wife left me, all of that going on.”
A group of high school and college students started Foundation 2 in the 1980s, which was named after a science fiction novel. Plotz, the program manager, says as awareness for the line has increased, her staffers on the phone lines have been much busier.
“Our biggest month has been around 3,100 calls, and 2,600 is our lowest month,” she said.
It’s this building in Cedar Rapids where help and healing are provided to so many in a time of crisis. The Central Iowa Crisis Line — a 24-hour line CICS has been pushing those in a crisis to call since its inception — connects directly to Plotz and her staff. In the CICS region alone, awareness has gone up in just the last year; 34 calls in quarter one 2016 compared to 100 calls in quarter one 2017 is the most telling evidence so far.
“I believe we have a place here where all our counselors don’t want to tell you what to do with your life, but we’re ready to listen,” Plotz said. “We don’t decide for you what kind of crisis you are going through.”
The staff at Foundation 2 are all paid and hold college degrees. They hold certifications from the American Association of Suicidology and Chapter 24 — a crisis services credential administered by the Department of Human Services. It’s these accolades Plotz believes puts her call center in the best possible position to assist Central Iowans struggling with a crisis. A call to the 24-hour line at 844-258-8858 will connect someone in a crisis with the resources they need within the CICS region.
“Generally, when we have our own thoughts yacking away at us, it can be very negative very discouraging, and I think talking out loud with someone else can bring perspective to any life situation,” Plotz said. “I think we have made differences in people’s lives because they’ve had someone listen to their experiences, and they didn’t judge them.