988 MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 38-0, approved an amendment that would require the state to designate at least one 988 crisis hotline center to provide crisis intervention services and crisis care coordination 24 hours per day, seven days a week for individuals accessing the federally designated 988 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline.

“Over a year ago, the federal government created the 988 hotline,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth). “The 988 hotline is a 3-digit phone number for Americans to call when in a mental health crisis. The line will be fully operational by July 2022. This is where states come in. Just because the phone line runs, doesn’t mean there will be services ready to respond when someone calls. It is our role to ensure that when people call the hotline, there is someone in the state that is ready and available to respond.”

Moran noted that the hotline must also have the capability to serve a diverse set of populations and be able to serve individuals who are high-risk or have specialized needs because they have substance use disorder, other mental health conditions or developmental disabilities. “In addition, these crisis centers must be able to service a diverse range of people at different ages, races, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity and language spoken,” continued Moran. Moreover, to serve everyone in every place in the commonwealth, they must be able to provide crisis and outgoing services in a reasonable time in all areas of the commonwealth.

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