New line connects to mental health services

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Every person in south-central Indiana can quickly access emergency mental health services by simply remembering three numbers: 9-8-8.

Supporters describe the National 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as a crucial advancement for mental health. The goal is to easily connect people in emotional crisis with counselors trained to help people in the throes of suicidal, addiction and other mental crises.

This number can be used on cell phones for chatting and texting. An online version of the service is available at 988lifeline.org.

In 2021, Lifeline received 3.6 million calls, chats and texts. But with easier access to triple digits now in place, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) expects that number to at least double in the next 12 months.

Here in Bartholomew County, Centerstone Behavioral Health Services is one of 988 crisis contact centers nationwide preparing for increased traffic.

“To prepare for this transition, we have hired additional staff to work with people who need help,” said Becky Stoll, vice president of crisis and disaster management at Centerstone.

Meanwhile, SAMHSA further stated that the long-term vision for all crisis contact centers is to increase access to crisis services, including mobile crisis teams and available crisis stabilization facilities. in communities across the country.

As with 911, building the full continuum of 988 emergency mental health services will take years, as well as significant investment and policy change, according to a Centerstone press release.

Proposed steps to further strengthen 988 infrastructure and key services include enacting nominal state charges on wireless bills and passing legislation that would require insurance payers to cover a defined list. mental health crisis services. Both are common practices in funding 911 emergency medical services.

Indiana Human and Family Services Secretary Dan Rusyniak said the state plans to further strengthen the service, adding more staff and creating crisis teams to help where a phone call doesn’t. not enough.

In part, the 988 service is made possible by approximately $100 million in new mental health funding. Nearly 90% of this money will be invested in community mental health centers, as well as local grant recipients. The money represents a mix of federal, state and local matching funds.

The remaining $12 million will help create new residencies and internships in psychiatry and psychology at the IU School of Medicine. It will also help fund a partnership with Riley Hospital for Children to bring mental health services to pediatric practices in Indiana.

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