Gov. Kemp, State Leaders Announce Smartphone App for Youth in Crisis

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Governor Brian P. Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, and state officials announced a new mobile application to support the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), a 24/7 hotline offering free and confidential access to services for mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Traveling across the state, Marty and I have heard firsthand from parents, students, teachers, and administrators about the growing mental health crisis in our schools and communities. That's why we're taking action to fund mental health intervention services, school security measures, and innovative tools like the My GCAL app," stated Governor Kemp. "I applaud the hard work of Commissioner Fitzgerald and the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities to build this resource for our state and lend a helping hand to those in need."

The My GCAL app - for Apple and Android smartphones - was designed to reach Georgia’s youth in times of need, and GCAL is staffed by caring professionals - including licensed clinicians - who are available 24/7 to address behavioral health crises, make referrals for treatment, and dispatch mobile crisis response teams.

“Right now, Georgia's youth face tremendous pressure to 'fit in' with their peers, and it can take a severe emotional and physical toll on their day-to-day lives," stated First Lady Marty Kemp. "As the parents of three teenage daughters, Brian and I understand that Georgia families face this challenge every single day. We're committed to standing with them in this fight."

At the announcement, Governor Kemp and the First Lady were joined by DBHDD Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald; State Representatives Sharon Cooper (R - Marietta), Katie Dempsey (R - Rome), Terry Rogers (R - Clarkesville), and Kevin Tanner (R - Dawsonville); and State Senators Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), Brian Strickland (R - McDonough), and Blake Tillery (R - Vidalia).

“We know that when youth may be struggling or have a friend who needs help, they are much more likely to reach out via text rather than phone,” stated Commissioner Fitzgerald. “This app provides the same professional, confidential response as the GCAL Call Center through a method that works for teens. We hope that it will become a lifeline for youth seeking help.”

The app enables users to receive immediate support by communicating with caring GCAL professionals via text message, chat, or phone. While the My GCAL app is targeted at youth, GCAL is available to anyone in Georgia.