988 mental health crisis line gets 5 million calls, texts and chats in first year

The 988 mental health crisis line, active since last July, has received about 5 million calls, texts, and chats in its first year of operation, marking a 35% increase from the old 10-digit crisis line.

Success stories: The 988 mental health crisis line has proven vital in assisting individuals during crisis situations.
* 24-year-old Marie’s encounter with the line during a dissociative episode illustrates its invaluable role.

Driving the news: An easy-to-remember crisis line, 988 was established to guide people dealing with depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation towards immediate help and resources.
* The average waiting time across the line has drastically decreased from 2 minutes 39 seconds to just 41 seconds.
* Despite the noted success, mental health leaders point out that significant work needs to be done to attain the line’s full potential.

Funding and awareness: The Biden administration has invested about $1 billion in 988, with states also contributing.
* Boosting staffing and raising awareness about the line have been prioritized.
* According to a survey released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, only 18% of adults in the U.S. are aware of 988.

By The Numbers: Over 14 million adults in the U.S. had a serious mental illness in 2021, and 12.3 million seriously considered suicide, underlining the pressing need for such a helpline.
* In its first year, 988 has answered more than 665,000 texts, representing a staggering 1135% increase in text-based communication from the previous 10-digit crisis line.
* The need for robust infrastructure, particularly for chat and text, was highlighted as a key to reach target populations.

Looking ahead: With additional focus on sustainability and staffing efficiency required for 988’s growth, state-centric funding models akin to the 911 services are being considered. Furthermore, numerous experts have emphasized the requirement of a comprehensive follow-up service post-988 communication.

View original article on NPR

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