What Is 211? Why Does It Matter? How Can You Help?

Answering questions about the essential service.
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What is 211? It’s a question many people don’t know the answer to. 211 is the United States’ national helpline for information and referrals. If you need help to find resources in your community, or just want someone to talk to, 211 can help. This number is available 24/7, and can connect you with everything from mental illness services to food banks. In this story, we’ll discuss what 211 is, why it matters, and how you can help spread the word about this important information and referral service.

The reality of getting help in America

I live in a small town in southeast Tennessee. There are no mental health resources near my home. I’m lucky, as my bipolar disorder has been stable for years, and now my primary care physician can monitor my meds. However, if I was in crisis or just starting out, I would have to drive over 45 miles to get any help. Worse yet, it would mean driving to Chattanooga, where I would have no idea where to start.

Here, 211 can help. With one call, I can get the direction I need. Thanks to the kind people at United Way answering the phones at 211, I’ll know where to go.

What’s 211 number and what does it offer people?

211 is a free and confidential service that can help connect people in need with the resources to help. Whether you’re facing a personal crisis or looking for aid in your community, 211 can be a lifeline. 211 connects people to government agencies and education programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It’s surprising to learn that 211 was assigned by The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2000. Yet, two decades later, many communities have never heard of it. Per 211.org, “There are more than 200 211 agencies across the United States, each with a team of compassionate, highly trained community specialists who are available to help you access the best local resources and services to address any need.” They already field over 21 million requests each year. In 2021, the number of requests to United Ways’ and other centers exceeded 41 million. But there’s still a need for more awareness and partners.

Picture of woman thinking | What Is 211? Find answers to your questions and discover the valuable services 211 provides. Learn why 211 matters and how you can help. | #mentalhealth #mentalillness #211
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Why does 211 matter?

One thing made painfully obvious by the pandemic was the lack of access to mental health care. Even worse, most people are clueless about where to turn if they help. 211 and their referral services can improve public health by providing essential guidance. Most centers are available seven days a week.

211 is vital because it provides essential family services to those in need. By connecting people with the resource specialists they need, 211 can help prevent crises and save lives. Besides providing information and referrals, 211 also offers emotional support to those who are struggling. This helpline is a lifeline for many, leading to suicide prevention.

Which organizations partner with 211?

The beauty of 211 resource list is the comprehensive database of social services. There are many agencies and organizations that partner with 211. Some of the most common include:

  • United Way
  • Goodwill
  • Lyft
  • IBM
  • The Ad Council
  • The Hartford
  • SingleCare
  • Local crisis centers

There are many more, but these are some of the biggest partnerships. Each focuses on promoting better health care and support in their community.

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How do you contact your local 211 center?

The quickest way to reach 211 is to dial 211 from your phone. You can also visit their website, 211.org. Here you will find the contact information for your local agency.

Your local center may have additional contact numbers and email addresses to help you access their referral service. Each one provides information about health and human services and transportation assistance accessible near you.


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How can you help spread the word about 211?

There are many ways you can help spread the word about 211. You can share this blog post with your friends and family, or you can volunteer with a local 211 organization. You can also help spread the word about 211 by including the 211 number in your social media posts. If you have the ability, you can also volunteer with a local 211 organization. By spreading the word about this important service, we can ensure that more people are aware of what it is and how it can help them.

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What are some services referred to by 211?

From crisis support to food banks or child care to summer camps, this helpline is available 24/ seven and can connect you with the resources you need. 211 is an important resource for many people, and by spreading the word about it, we can help more people in need of help.

Some services referred to by 211 include:

  • Mental health services
  • Crisis counseling support
  • Food assistance
  • Information about government benefits
  • Disaster relief services
  • Substance abuse groups
  • Utility assistance
  • Job training
  • And more!

If you need help, or know someone who does, please call 211. This helpline is available all day, every day, and can connect you with the resources you need.

By spreading the word about what 211 is and what it does, we can help more people in need of support. So please, share this story with your friends and family, and include the 211 number in your social media posts. Together, we can help more people in north America find the help they need.

Until next time, keep fighting.

Picture of man thinking and looking at his phone | What Is 211? Find answers to your questions and discover the valuable services 211 provides. Learn why 211 matters and how you can help. | #mentalhealth #mentalillness #211
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