988 Hotline now connects callers with mental health professionals in Cincinnati, Ohio and Kentucky | Cincinnati News | Cincinnati
Ohio, Kentucky and the rest of the United States now have a new option for mental health resources.
The country recently rolled out its long-in-development 988 program, which connects callers to suicide prevention counselors, addiction specialists and other mental health resources. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline has been in operation since 2005 but recently shortened its phone number from a 10-digit 800 number to the current three-digit number. People in distress can now call or text 9-8-8.
National leaders expect 988 to become a hub for mental health resources like 911 for emergency resources, saying it’s easier to remember than the old 10-digit phone number and that it is faster to receive care. 988 is federally mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, but each state is responsible for setting up its own system.
Like many states, Ohio and Kentucky transitioned to the 988 system on July 16 (some states are still in the process of setting up their systems). When a person calls 988, they will be routed to mental health professionals at a local or national call centre. National call centers will intervene if local centers are not available. There are over 200 call centers across the United States, so callers will never encounter a busy signal, the According to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS adds that in 2020, one person died by suicide every 11 minutes.
Here’s where 988 calls go in Hamilton County, Ohio
Talbert House, a local nonprofit that provides suicide prevention, housing, addictions and other counseling services, serves as the 988 call center for Hamilton County. It also accepts emergency calls from other parts of the state and country when other center lines are busy. In the first two days of 988, Talbert House received 93 local calls and 108 national calls, according to data Talbert House provided to CityBeat.
“It’s so important that people have quick access when they’re in crisis,” said Teri Nau, vice president of community and donor relations for Talbert House. CityBeat.
The Cincinnati Emergency Communications Center also works with Talbert House to transfer 911 calls to 988 counselors when the situation calls for it. Counselors can be summoned to police calls to help defuse escalated situations.
Currently, the Cincinnati 988 program is available 40 hours per week and will later be expanded to 60 hours per week.
Anyone in Ohio can call 988
The 988 program is now available throughout Ohio. A statement from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services indicates that callers will be routed to local or regional advisors based on their area code.
The department adds that it has funding for one year of 988 operation, but Axios reports that Ohio is not one of the states that has established long-term funding for the project.. Currently, Ohio has allocated $20 million to 988 efforts across 19 state call centers.
988 is also in northern Kentucky and throughout the Commonwealth
Kentucky residents also have access to emergency mental health services by dialing 988.
“My administration has always given mental health the same priority as physical health,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a press release. “And with the launch of 988, we’ve made it easier for Kentuckians to reach out and get the help they need and deserve.”
“Relief coverage is critical to responding quickly to people in crisis, and we’re well positioned to handle those calls, even as they spike,” adds Angela Roberts, 988 program administrator.
If one of Kentucky’s 13 call centers is unable to take a call, the call is automatically routed to a national disaster relief center in Florida or New York, depending on the Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to a press release, Kentucky officials predict that easier-to-remember dialing and text capabilities will drive calls quadruple by June 2023.
The change in Kentucky was made possible by a two-year, $1.16 million grant from U.S. bailout dollars, the statement also said. Additionally, Kentucky’s upcoming budget includes $19.6 million over two years to strengthen 988 infrastructure and fund mobile crisis services.
According to Axios, Kentucky is one of the states that has enacted long-term funding for 988.
Country changes from 1-800-273-TALK to 988
The 988 lifeline is part of a nationwide departure from the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which will remain available even after the transition to 988; callers to the original number will be routed to local or regional call centers as if they had called 988 in the first place. 988 is available 24/7 for advisers to answer calls, cats or SMS directly. The service is also available for those who are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
In 2020, former US President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation allowing for a three-digit number for mental health crises. The The Federal Communications Commission later assigned 988 as the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.. Since then, the administration of current US President Joe Biden has provided $432 million in federal funding to build call centers and add other resources to the 988 effortsays the US Department of Health and Human Services.
988 is available in all US states and the five major territories. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s original 1-800-273-TALK number remains in effect.
To respond to the 988 effort, telephone carriers in Greater Cincinnati began requiring area codes when dialing numbers in the area.
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