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Reporting from in and around Illinois.Listen to Statewide on WNIJ Saturdays 6-7 a.m. and Sundays 6-7 p.m.

Statewide: New national mental health hotline launches amid questions of readiness

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

A national suicide prevention and mental health crisis number will be active starting July 16. Advocates hope the launch of 9-8-8 will make it easier for those in need to get in touch with people who can help, similar to people have learned to call 9-1-1 for emergency situations. But there are concerns not all states are ready. Resources, such as adequate staff, are needed to make sure the system functions as intended. Otherwise, people may be left waiting on hold or their calls shifted out of their area or state.

We'll hear more and learn about a possible solution for those who need in-person help. That's on this episode of Statewide.

* Tim Shelley interviews Stephanie Alkhafaji, interim CEO of the Children's Home Association, about an increase in monthly support payments for foster families.

* Residents of Oquawka are planning a celebration of an elephant who died in the town 50 years ago. Jane Carlson has that report.

* Susie An tells us how a group of Illinois teens is taking the lead and trying to hold schools accountable for improving mental issues among their peers.

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Bobbi Wiseman - Submitted photo from Memorial Health
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Barbara Wheatley takes phone calls as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network. Wheatley is an alcohol and substance abuse counselor and the lead clinician for mobile crisis response for Memorial Behavioral Health in Springfield, Illinois.

* Side Effects Public Media's Carter Barrett has more on the rollout of the 9-8-8 mental health crisis number.

* Carter also reports on a possible solution for those with a mental health crisis who need in-person help.

* Emily Hays with Illinois Newsroom tells us about two rappers who met at the U of I and returned to teach elementary schoolers about themselves, through hip hop.

* Yvonne Boose with WNIJ has details on an outside of the box Rockford festival for artists.

* We hear about a Chalkbeat investigation into why some Chicago students were automatically enrolled in military-style courses.

* Dana Cronin of Harvest Public Media details how a wait for debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers is weighing on one Midwestern producer.

* The Food and Reporting Network's Eve Abrams has more on farmers trying to capture carbon and sink it into the ground.

* Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco reports on a new Illinois dealing with "forever chemicals." He explains how the volume of the substances that don't break down continues to present challenges.