988 is an urgently needed national lifeline for mental health support, but will it be ready?
Posted on Apr 01 2022
The long-term vision is that someone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation can dial 988 to reach a local call center for support or to dispatch a mobile crisis team. Many of the 180 local call centers across the country struggle with funding. “Mental health has been underfunded for decades — we get pennies here, pennies there,” says Hannah Wesolowski, NAMI CAO. “The 911 system took decades to build but because of the pandemic, our need is high and we need to move as quickly as possible.” Congress did not mandate federal funding for 988, rather leaving it up to the states. Wesolowski says that due to the patchy funding, there won’t be a widespread marketing campaign for 988. “We don’t want people to call and not get connected,” she says. “The real fear is people losing trust in the system before the system is off the ground.”