A $282 million investment in suicide prevention and crisis care services was recently announced by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
With funds from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget and additional funds from the American Rescue Plan, SAMHSA’s $282 million investment will support efforts across the country to shore up, scale up and staff up, including:
· $177 million to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network operations and telephone infrastructure, including centralized chat/text response, backup center capacity, and special services (eg, a subnetwork for Spanish language speakers).
· $105 million to increase staffing across states’ local crisis call centers.
Funds will also be available to help transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from its current 10-digit number to a 3-digit dialing code: 988.
The 988 code will be the first step in transforming crisis care in the US, creating a universal entry point to needed crisis services in line with access to other emergency medical services.
“As we continue to confront the impact of the pandemic, investing in this critical tool is key to protecting the health and wellbeing of countless Americans — and saving lives. Giving the states a tool to prevent suicide and support people in crisis is essential to our HHS mission of protecting the health and wellbeing of everyone in our nation,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in an HHS press release.
Until the formal launch of 988 in July 2022, anyone in mental health crisis or emotional distress can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). People not in crisis who are seeking treatment options for mental health issues can visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
HHS Announces Critical Investments to Implement Upcoming 988 Dialing Code for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Washington, DC: HHS Press Office; December 20, 2021.