ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
SERVICE TO THE CITIZEN AWARD WINNERS
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provided three major programs to improve services to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs anticipated the need for rapid communications, the language access needs of the people served, and increased demand for services.
Anticipating an increase in demand for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division of Mental Health developed and launched the Call4Calm referral service. Call4Calm is a free mental health referral “text line” available in Illinois in English and Spanish. Residents are able to text TALK (or HABLAR in Spanish) to 552020 to request a call back from a mental health professional. Residents provided their zip code and language preference. On the back end, these requests were automatically matched to health providers in their area and who spoke their language. A mental health counselor would then call back the resident within 24 hours.
IDHS has connected thousands of residents seeking mental health services through Call4Calm referral service to professional mental health providers throughout the state. Through Direct Feedback The automated follow-up survey built into the workflow of Call4Calm provided actionable data for DHS to monitor the call back rate of service providers and helpfulness of those providers. IDHS sent more than 5 million SMS text messages. Moreover, IDHS was able to launch these SMS texting programs within six days of contracting with their technology and services vendor, allowing services to be up and running during the peak of the COVID-19 emergency. Vaccinations at Family and Child Resource Center vaccine clinics increased by 2x-3x in the days immediately after the SMS text messages promoted these clinics.