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September 12, 2022: Nearly 10K Georgians call 988 mental health line in first six weeks

In brief: Thousands call mental health crisis line — federal lawmakers push protections for pregnant people — Bulldogs top AP poll

In just six weeks of operations, close to 10,000 Georgians have called the state’s new 988 mental health hotline seeking support.

Georgians who call 988 – which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and part of a national initiative– are almost always routed to a counselor in the state.

The 988 phone call is designed to be the first in a series of potential steps to help someone in mental health crisis. A trained counselor on the other end of the phone often can help calm the caller and refer them to outpatient services. If additional help is needed, the counselor at the hotline can ask emergency first responders or a mobile-crisis team to travel to the person to help them on-site.

The counselor can also help arrange referral to a crisis stabilization unit or other health-care facility if the person needs additional in-patient treatment.

Based on an analysis of calls, callers are generally more rural than urban, between 25 and 34 and more likely by a slight margin to be male.

Proposed federal bill would offer new protections for pregnant people

Georgia is one of seven states that does not protect pregnant people in the workplace beyond basic discrimination. If passed, the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would go further.

The proposed law would protect people from being fired or forced to go on leave for seeking accommodations when pregnant. It goes further than the 1978 federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, that only protects employees from being discriminated against due to pregnancy.

Ky Lindberg of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, says the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act actually protects the wellbeing of pregnant people.

“Things like having a stool to sit on while you're pregnant could be a saving grace for a pregnant person," Lindberg said.

Accommodations like that would be standardized under the PWFA.

Over 200 advocacy groups are pushing for the bill, which passed the US House last May.

Bulldogs jump to top of national football poll

The Georgia Bulldogs jumped to number one in the AP football rankings following a 33 – 0 win over Samford in Athens on Saturday. Previously top-ranked Alabama fell to second place after eking out a last-minute 20-19 win over then-unranked Texas.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.