June 10, 2022 – The RAND report confirms what many mental health experts already know — there’s more work to be done to create a comprehensive mental health crisis system that can serve everyone’s needs, said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

In 2020, Congress enacted the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which established the 988 phone number as a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. Proponents of the law also hoped its creation would reduce stigma around mental health emergencies — and make it as accessible to reach out for this help as dialing 911 for a fire, police or physical emergency.

Congress has earmarked more than $280 million to improve 988’s capacity, but the report authors said “it is unclear whether and to what extent local jurisdictions throughout the United States are prepared for the potential influx of calls.” But only about 16% of 180 behavioral health program directors surveyed by RAND said they had the budget to operate 988. 

Wesolowski said it’s going to take years to build the call center capacity as well as the additional crisis services everyone — including children and teens — needs. 


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