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States need more resources to meet expected demand for crisis hotline reboot: report

States need more resources to meet expected demand for crisis hotline reboot: report
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States need more resources to meet expected demand for crisis hotline reboot: report

States need more resources to meet expected demand for crisis hotline reboot: report

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Instead of dialing 911, you’ll soon be able to call 988 for a mental health emergency. But will the states be ready?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will be available nationally as 988. From July 16, 2022, will be billed as “911” for a mental health crisis. There are concerns, however, that many states will not be ready to meet the expected increase in services, according to a recent New York Times report.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is providing approximately 105 million in grant funding from the American Rescue Plan, to 54 states and territories to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, currently 10 July. -Number number 988 has been converted to a three-digit dialing code, “said a press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the Times, federal money will help 988 operators send operators, not just counselors, but ultimately respondents who hopefully reduce current demand in both armed law enforcement and emergency rooms, when someone is in a mental health crisis.

The crisis hotline is currently answered by a national network of more than 180 call centers, but many operate on a slim budget, with little or no support from the states. According to the Times, some states resort to fundraisers such as golf outings and breakfasts to pay bills without funding.

But with the flow of federal funds, many states may not be fully equipped to successfully route and respond to the massive influx of mental health emergency calls expected in July, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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“If the states are not adequately prepared for the impending launch of the 988, lives will continue to be derailed or lost, largely due to inappropriate crisis response,” said Vincent Achiti, CEO of Mental Health Colorado, who works with policymakers, law enforcement and attorneys nationwide. Confirm that 988 will launch successfully.

President Donald J. Trump signed into law establishing the hotline as 988 in October 2020, giving state lawmakers the option to raise money for call centers with a monthly fee on phone bills, as is done for 911 calls, which collect an estimated $ 3 billion each. Year according to the Times.

Fees can also be paid for response teams that can be sent to those in need during a mental health crisis and can also help with specialized triage centers, but can be very expensive, according to the Times.

States and territories will receive S 250,000 to $ 14 million in SAMHSA grants to help build local 988 capacity, according to the website.

But Achiti told Gadget Clock that “… an investment of 250 250,000 is not enough to cover stuffing and infrastructure costs, especially long-term costs.”

“While this fund is a great start, it’s really a drop in the bucket. Even with this fund, many states are fully prepared to handle the massive flow of emergency calls they are about to receive.”

But exactly how to pay for 988 has become a “controversial” issue for states, with some lawmakers reluctant to add a payment structure that appears to be a new tax, while others see 988 as unnecessary because of other resources already available. There are news channels.

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Alliance, only a few states, including Colorado, where Achity operates, have approved charges for 988 for phone bills.

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“Model state law is available for policymakers and advocates to change the way they respond to people in their communities in mental health crises. The model law also includes a new funding system for states to create a monthly fee on all phone lines – the way communities fund 911 – to ensure. That 988 fund is sustainable and these emergency services will not feel any funding gap, “according to the Mental Illness website.

According to a New York Times data analysis, about 17% of current Lifeline calls last year were abandoned before receiving help from a caller, leaving 41% text and 73% online chat unanswered.

The paper said the calls and messages were “… abandoned for whatever reason, but in the interview, callers blamed hold time and call center operators lamented the limited power.”

“We hope that 988 will help change these realities,” said Achiti, who is also the leader of Care Not Cuffs, a national campaign to address the need for incomplete mental health with health care rather than imprisonment.

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He also warns that rural communities are probably the worst prepared to respond to the 988 rollout, as many may have a call response center across only a few hundred square miles, meaning those living in rural and border areas will experience much greater mental health during emergency response. .

“Leaders at both the federal and state levels must make sure that the 9-8-8 rollout includes legislation and support to ensure that rural and border communities are not left behind. No one dies from a mental health emergency alone because they Live outside of an urban or suburban environment, “Achiti noted.

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“The current Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always be available to people in mental distress or suicidal crisis, even after 988 is launched nationally,” the National Network said.

“When people call, text or chat on 988, they will connect with trained counselors who are part of the existing national suicide prevention lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen to them, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support and Connect to resources if needed. ”

On May 20, May 27, and June 3, Mental Health Colorado is hosting a National Rural Summit on Mental Health and Criminal Justice where any provider working at the junction of Mental Health and Criminal Justice in rural areas is welcome to join to learn more about how. The 988 rollout to address unique challenges that affect rural communities.

More information on participating in the Summit Series can be found here.

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