Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council providing suicide prevention resources, free dental cleanings

If you need help with a mental health crisis – all you have to do is dial 988 to get help...
If you need help with a mental health crisis – all you have to do is dial 988 to get help anytime of the day, any day of the week.(WTOC)
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 5:09 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - If you need help with a mental health crisis – all you have to do is dial 988 to get help anytime of the day, any day of the week.

The new nation-wide phone number launched about one month ago.

They have hired more workers to answer phones but overall the phone number is working like it is supposed to but they still need to get the word out that the resource is available.

While the numbers from August from the new 988 line in Georgia won’t be in until next month – experts are expecting to see an increase in calls.

Not only do they expect the easier phone number to have an impact, also they always see an increase in calls at the start of the new school year with teachers calling about getting help for their students.

Whether it is picking up the phone and dialing 988 or physically going to a building like the Gateway Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Savannah – mental health experts say it is time to have self care and put mental health first.

“The message is to be willing to ask for help to take care of yourself, to get with someone, whether it is the professionals, whether it’s us, or a friend, a family member, just to say hey I need something, things are not good,” said Behavioral Health Link Community Relations and Education Coordinator Alloceia Hall.

“So it truly is a community at work. I always say it take a village to save a child from suicide and each of us is that child and all of us are that village,” said Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council Vira Salzburn.

They are encouraging you to get involved. Next week we flip the calendar to September which is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council has several events happening including:

  • Sep. 10 – Mental Health Symposium at Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus
  • Sep.25 - Walk out of Darkness at Lake Mayer Park
  • Ongoing: Free suicide intervention training

Suicide prevention is not the only goal of the County’s Safety Net Planning Council. They have a big event coming up this weekend to give free dental exams.

Free dental exams

Going to the dentist is not something that most people look forward to doing, but for some the cost of the visit alone keeps them away.

That’s why this weekend hundreds of free dental exams will be happening to help fill those in need.

The Garden City Recreation Center parking lot will officially be open at midnight and the first appointments starts bright and early at 6 a.m. on Saturday.

It is first come, first serve.

The dental clinic is for Chatham County residents 18 and over. You do not need to show an ID, you do not need insurance and there is no co-pay. All you have to do is show up.

The Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council is teaming up with Remote Area Medical for this clinic.

Services available for free include dental cleanings, dental fillings, dental extractions and dental X-rays.

“A lot of people simply cannot afford healthcare in general and specifically dental care. We completed a needs assessment about a year ago and 60 percent of the people responded, indicating that they had not seen a dentist in over a year and a lot of it was because of cost,” said Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council Executive Director Reginald Lee.

Hundreds of volunteers will be at the clinic this weekend including from Savannah Technical College and their Dental Hygiene students and staff, as well as Georgia Southern Students and staff who will be doing oral cancer screenings and hearing tests.

This is a two day event - again Saturday and Sunday starting at 6 a.m. at the Recreation Center in Garden City.

This is their second year hosting this event and they hope to serve more people than last year, with a goal of 300.