With Americans reporting increased depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation amid the pandemic—and experiencing more risk factors for suicide (job loss, financial strain, social isolation, hopelessness, substance misuse)—now, more than ever, we need to get people help when and where they need it.
What is 988?
Approved by Congress in 2020 and set to go live nationwide by July 2022, 988 will serve as America's first three-digit crisis number dedicated to mental health, and as an alternative to 911 for mental health-related crises. For example, if someone is having suicidal thoughts, if someone is experiencing delusions, or if someone is displaying severe symptoms of a mental health condition, 988 can provide a specialized, mental health response that will save lives and preserve community resources.
What is needed to make 988 effective?
- Someone to answer the call. Every state needs 24/7 call centers that are adequately staffed by mental health professionals who are specially trained to respond to crises.
- Someone to provide help. Every state needs mobile response teams that can be dispatched to the scene and that are equipped for differing scenarios.
- Someplace to go for treatment. Every state needs crisis stabilization services available to provide observation, stabilization, and connection to follow-up care.
What role can you play?
- Contact your Congressional representatives to ask them to ensure states have the resources they need to fully implement 988 and all payers, including commercial insurers, are covering crisis services.
- Contact your State representatives to ask them to create a comprehensive crisis response system centered around 988 through federally authorized telecommunications.
- Spread the word on social media and through your own channels about the importance of a fully-funded, comprehensive crisis services system that will support 988 when implemented.
The time to act is now!
Resources available for download*
- Messaging Toolkit
- Customizable PPT Slide Template
- Federal Policymakers
- State Policymakers
*The National Response collaborated with The CEO Huddle to develop these materials, which reflect the alignment of both the National Response's An Action Plan for Strengthening Mental Health and the Prevention of Suicide in the Aftermath of COVID-19 and The CEO Huddle's A Unified Vision for the Future of Mental Health, Addiction, and Well-Being in the United States.