How will 988 work?

The vision for 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is to render mental health crisis services to everyone, regardless of the time and location. This approach will offer sensitive and timely support to individuals experiencing a mental health, homelessness, or substance abuse crisis and reduce unnecessary police involvement. The goal is to implement 988 by July 16, 2022.  These crisis response systems may look different in each community. Here are some examples of these services:

Regional Crisis Call Centers can assist with the prevention of crisis, identification of problems and making referrals to different levels of care. These call centers will provide an alternative to police involvement by employing trained mental health professional to answer the calls and deescalate situations. Ideally, crisis centers would be available statewide with direct access to mental health professionals, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, meeting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) operational guidelines.

Once the crisis call has taken place, a Mobile Crisis Team will get involved if the crisis call cannot be deescalated via phone. Two mental health professionals will be dispatched to the location of the person in crisis, accompanied by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and police officers (only if warranted). This approach can help deescalate the person, increase treatment adherence and reduce possible injuries to the individual experiencing the crisis and police officers involved. A clinical assessment will be conducted on site and based on the recommendation of the mental health professional; the person will be transported to the appropriate level of care.

Crisis Receiving and Stabilization Facilities will provide quality care and cost-effective alternatives to jail and emergency rooms. These facilities should be accessible to walk-ins and referral 24/7 with a “no-rejection” policy.  These facilities will provide a welcoming atmosphere and facilitate the completion of a behavior health assessment and treatment plan. A multidisciplinary team will work with the individual to determine the treatment goals to proactively manage concerns and avoid future mental health crisis.

To learn more, visit 988: Reimagining Crisis Response (NAMI).

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