Individuals in crisis can dial 988 to speak with mental health professionals, receive immediate medical assistance, or be directed to treatment. Established by a 2020 law, the hotline is an expanded version of the previous National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, intended to provide Americans with a single mental health emergency access point, akin to 911.
The Gist: While 988 has the potential to help more Americans, as well as reduce some burden on overstressed first responders and hospital emergency rooms, media outlets are reporting concerns from national, state, and local partners that they lack adequate staffing and funding to handle the expected level of demand.
The nation is long overdue for creating accessible, coordinated mental health crisis care, and this is a step in the right direction. But with one in six calls to the current hotline system now going unanswered, the rollout needs to be coupled with funding for local infrastructure needs.