NAMI Testifies Before U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Need to Fund Mental Health Crisis Services

May 19, 2021

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) testified today before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education on the need to fund mental health crisis care, arguing that the nation’s lack of a comprehensive crisis system infrastructure too often leads to trauma and tragedy.

As the Subcommittee evaluates spending priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, Angela Kimball, NAMI’s National Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, testified on how the impending availability of 988, a nationwide, 3-digit number for mental health crises, provides an opportunity to reimagine how we respond to crises.

“While there is a clear vision for successful 988 crisis response systems, few systems meet the standards needed to realize this vision,” Kimball said. “Robust federal investment is required to realize the promise of 988 to deliver a mental health response to mental health crises.”

In October 2020, President Trump signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act into law. This legislation established 988 as the universal dialing code for mental health crisis and suicide prevention, to be routed through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Federal Communications Commission mandated that telecommunications carriers begin routing calls to 988 to the Lifeline no later than July 2022. In the addition to crisis call centers to respond to 988 calls, Kimball testified that additional investments are needed to fund mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization programs to provide a full crisis response system.

“Without federal support, communities will be unable to develop and sustain a crisis infrastructure that ensures a mental health response will be available for mental health crises.”

NAMI’s full written testimony is available here. Watch the recording of this hearing here.

Advocates can contact their members of Congress here to voice support for crisis response funding.

NOTE: 988 may not be available on devices from all telecommunications carriers until July 2022. Anyone in crisis should continue to Text “NAMI” to 741741 or call the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or their local mental health crisis line.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).