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988 is Now Live: What Does It Mean?


Dialing 988 is NOT the same as dialing 911! 

Beginning Saturday, July 16, people across the country can call or text 988, the new three-digit number for mental health, substance use and suicidal crises, to connect directly to mental health support during a crisis. This new, shorter dialing code will help people more easily connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network — over 200 local crisis call centers — for support during a crisis.  

Questions? Want to learn more? NAMI has more information available about what is and is not changing across the country with the launch of 988.

The availability of 988 is a great step to helping people in crisis and their families – but the work to improve our full crisis response system is only beginning. While the new number is now live, efforts to build the system’s local capacity in our state to help everyone in crisis will continue in the weeks, months and years to come. Our policymakers must act to build and invest in local resources so that everyone in crisis has someone to talk to (local 24/7 crisis call centers), someone to respond (mobile crisis teams consisting of mental health professionals instead of law enforcement) and somewhere to go (short term crisis stabilization options instead of relying solely emergency departments). Learn more about this vision here.

When watching the below video, know that these systems are currently in place in WA state.
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988 Crisis Line Implementation 

Many state legislatures are struggling to meet the July 16 deadline by which states must have a call system in place for people experiencing mental health and substance use crises. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 established the 988 crisis line to complement 911 and imposed the July 2022 deadline on states. Now federal efforts are underway to assist states that are having varying degrees of success implementing the crisis line on their own. 


Executive Director Lisa Dailey has been a leader in the CEO Alliance for Mental Health's efforts regarding the rollout of 988 to ensure a full continuum of mental health and substance use care is established that successfully serves those with the most severe illnesses. Dailey and Ben Miller of Well Being Trust led a briefing to staff of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus on the CEO Alliance for Mental Health's roadmap for 988 implementation in February. 


Treatment Advocacy Center supports Rep. Tony Cardenas' (D-Calif.) 988 implementation package, the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Implementation Act (HR 7116). The bill includes provisions that would fund the launch, infrastructure, and modernization of the new hotline and amend and develop Medicaid. It would also exclude crisis centers from the IMD payment prohibition. The Behavioral Health Crisis Services Expansion Act (HR 5611/S 1902), which included critical elements to the success of 988 (expanding the availability of behavioral health crisis services, including robust mobile crisis and 24/7 crisis stabilization services, and providing coverage of these services in the majority of health insurance plans) is included in this larger bill.  


President Biden's fiscal year 2023 budget proposal includes $696.9 million for 988 implementation. Under the proposal, funds would go towards strengthening Lifeline network operations, enhancing local capacity to provide a behavioral health crisis response, establishing and maintaining a 988 and Behavioral Health Crisis Coordination Office and supporting public awareness with targeted 988 national messaging.


credit: Treatment Advocacy Center

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