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November 01, 2021

A new NRI report highlights the experiences of 43 state Mental Health Agencies in working with state funded Behavioral Health Crisis Call Centers as they prepare for the implementation of 988—the three-digit-number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that must be live by July 16, 2022.

In the summer/fall of 2021, NRI’s Federal Division, in collaboration with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), a group of Transformation Transfer Initiative (TTI) grantee states, and with input from Vibrant Emotional Health, conducted an online survey of State Mental Health Authorities (SMHAs) about their state sponsored behavioral health crisis hotlines and warmlines, 988, and experiences working with 911. The purpose of the survey was to help states learn from each other on how they are working to implement 988 within the context of existing and emerging behavioral health crisis continuum. The survey found that in most states, the SMHA is the lead agency responsible for crisis call centers. The survey also identified that there are more than twice as many behavioral health crisis call centers than Lifeline call centers, and while many local centers may join the 988 system, in some states, many of the local call centers will continue as an important part of the behavioral health crisis continuum after the implementation of 988. The report also identifies efforts of states to work with 911 call centers to identify and refer behavioral health crisis calls to Lifeline and other behavioral health call centers.

We hope this report will help inform the field of state experiences working towards the exciting new launch of 988 and the implementation of a robust crisis services continuum to better help all individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Please contact Ted Lutterman—NRI’s Senior Director, Government & Commercial Research—at [email protected] with any questions about this report.