Personal crises are a part of living. And in general, people can deal with them effectively. There are times, however, when a crisis seems so intense and overwhelming that normal efforts to deal with it don’t work. This is when the Crisis Center can help.

The Crisis Center started offering services in Alachua County in December of 1969 in response to a growing concern with suicides in our community. It was one of the first centers in the U.S. and was initially funded by a National Institute of Mental Health grant. The value of the center’s services in suicide and crisis intervention led to it becoming a fully funded county agency in 1974. Today, it continues to be the only government crisis center in the U.S.

The mission of the Crisis Center is simple: to respond to every request to help a person in a crisis, whenever and wherever it occurs. Our help can be the difference between life and death. But more often, it means listening to someone’s problems and participating in a solution. The Crisis Center also mobilizes other community resources when appropriate to the helping process.

The Crisis Center offers a 24-hour telephone crisis intervention and counseling service that is provided by trained volunteers under the supervision of the Crisis Center staff. These volunteers have successfully completed a rigorous 60-hour training program followed by a one-to-three-month probationary period. Phone counselors are always available to listen to problems and offer guidance toward a solution. The crisis line can be reached at any time at 352-264-6789.

The center also provides an emergency mobile outreach team called a Care Team. The team is composed of experienced, carefully selected volunteers who respond to people in crisis. The team is dispatched at the request of law enforcement, mental health providers or concerned family and friends whenever face-to-face contact is essential. The Care Team usually deals with traumatic deaths, death notifications, suicidal individuals or highly disturbed persons. During after-hour shifts, the Care Team is also responsible for the center and the supervision of crisis line workers.

In addition, the Crisis Center offers appointment and walk-in counseling services during daytime hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday). This short-term counseling service allows continued contact for individuals in crisis and attempts to prevent further emotional distress to individuals, couples and families. These services are staffed by graduate-level students and interns, adjunct (unpaid) counselors who are often post master’s-level individuals seeking experience toward licensure in a mental health area and the clinical staff of the center. To make an appointment, call the Crisis Line (352-264-6789) or Business Line (352-264-6785) any time.

All Crisis Center services are offered completely free of charge.