In July 2022, 988 will roll out as the new, nationwide, easy-to-remember 3-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, linked to the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health. The Lifeline consists of a network of more than 180 local crisis centers across the country and provides 24/7/365 phone and chat services.
Local crisis centers provide the specialized care of a local community with the support of a national network. The Lifeline’s united network provides at-risk individuals across the country with access to immediate help at anytime from anywhere in the country, through a single, well-known phone number and name (Vibrant, 2020).
This site is to help crisis centers and those who care about crisis centers advocate for funding to effectively build infrastructure to support communities post-988 implementation.
Over $100M has been earmarked in Congress’ budget to administer the 988 roll out. However, there are zero dollars earmarked to the local crisis centers who actually take the 988 calls.
Policymakers often liken 988 to 911, however there are categorical differences in the nature of work performed in 911 versus 988 call centers.
Local crisis centers resolve 90% of crises via phone or chat, without the need of other high-cost interventions such as: active rescue or dispatching a mobile crisis response team. Funding must be allocated to these local centers to enhance staffing and infrastructure to prepare for the increased volume of calls which will result from the increased accessibility to the lifeline.
Local crisis centers provide the least restrictive, most cost-effective care to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. They are culturally relevant, innovative, and efficient – it is imperative for policy makers to understand the value of the centers actually answering the calls and fund their continued successful operation and services as 988 rolls out next year.
Vibrant Emotional Health, The International Council for Helplines, American Association of Suicidology and the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors have formed a 988 Collaborative to showcase the life-saving work being done by local crisis centers across the nation to advocate for funding designation in preparation for the 988 roll out.
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