Thank you for checking out the Listen Line Community Services space. I’m Dr. Sharla Paso, DNP, Director of the program. I want to tell you a little bit about how Listen Line was created.

I’ve worked as a nurse for 30 years. Most of that time was in labor and delivery with some years of pediatrics and adult Intensive Care mixed in. In 2018, I earned a doctorate in nursing from the University of Washington as a Women’s Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). As a CNS, I provide direct patient care, help nurses and the healthcare team stay up to date with medical advances, and work with organizations and systems to improve functionality.

You may wonder, “How does a Women’s Health nurse help with mental health?”
I wondered too…for my entire career as a nurse.
Each time I took care of a patient who had a mental health diagnosis, I would think, “I am not a psych nurse. I hope I can do this.” Ugh… it’s awful to worry you won’t know how to help your patient.
As time went on, I realized every patient has mental health. Just like with physical health, some are healthier than others. Some have a diagnosis, and some don’t.

We all have mental health. Everyone. Even you. And me.

I began to work to learn as much as I could about mental health and how to communicate about it. Talking about mental health can be just like talking about physical health – if we let it.

The Listen Line Story

In 2019, my cousin’s son died of suicide. I knew AJ. I’ve never had suicide hit me so close to home. That was the start of something deep inside me.

In the year after AJ’s death, two more families that I know lost sons to suicide. These deaths, along with the great amount of depression and anxiety in the people around us, in addition to the upset caused by Covid-19 in the healthcare world, caused me to shift my thinking.

I felt compelled to search for something that could make a difference. Then a third friend lost a son to suicide. I felt an urgency in my heart. What can we do??

I reached out to Vital Care, a local primary and urgent care clinic. They were eager to help. Todd Cichosz, PA, Doug Hiivala, RN, Jane Lindberg, RN and I spent many hours thinking together. Through much brainstorming, discussion, and research Listen Line Community Services was born.

First, we thought of classes for young people. Then we realized it isn’t only young people that need help. We realized that people need help understanding if they need help and if so, what help? They need someone who can guide them, through thinking, details, and finding the care they need.

To see if our thoughts were accurate, we sent out an anonymous survey asking people what they need, and if they could get it in Southwest Washington. We got around 600 responses. 105 people volunteered written comments in addition to the questions we asked. The responses we received strengthened our belief that we were on the right path.

People need someone to call.

The goal is to get so far ahead of suicidal thoughts that each person is getting the help they need, way before suicide is even a thought.

So, it was time to make business decisions. Who “owns” the business? How do we remain ethical? Is it possible to make a business like this profitable enough to sustain itself? In the end, we have a nonprofit corporation, initially dependent on donations, grants, and sponsorships to get off the ground.

We are off to a great start, thanks to all of you supporting us. It is humbling to know you trust us enough to give your financial support! It is also a testament to how great the need is for mental health support for our community.

Check back weekly for progress reports, class schedules and general information.
Next week you’ll get:

1. An overview of what must happen before we can open up the phone service
2. An introduction to the Board of Directors
3. What we see as phases of Listen Line Community Services

Your Call to Action
Tell your community about Listen Line! Support our community by donating!
Comments and questions here, or email privately.

Until next week… take care of you!


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