California’s mental health crisis hotline debuts- CalMatters

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The new federal number is being charged as an alternative to 911 for people with mental health problems. The bill would allow California to support call centers with new fees on landlines.

Since Saturday, people suffering from mental illness need to remember only three numbers to call for help: 988.

The new federal code – which was debated in California and across the country this weekend – is being charged as an alternative to 911 for people with mental health problems. Here, activists say the shortcut will make it easier for people in conflict to access the state’s 13 network of suicide prevention centers.

The program has been in operation for almost two years.

In October 2020, then President Donald Trump signed a bilateral law to establish 988 as a national code. The law also allows states to subsidize call centers and mental health services by placing new funding on telephone lines. So far, only four states have done so; California could soon be fifth.

With more money coming from these funds, along with investments from districts, states and the federal government, 988 experts are finally thinking it will lead to a profitable, ground-breaking reform of the mental health system – in which callers participates in the process of responding to the preservation crisis. police out of consistency.

At that time, this great system, which was first introduced by the federal government, was usually still only a vision. But California mental health leaders say they hope the project, including the funding system, will begin to shine in the coming year.

Others have warned that the implementation of a comprehensive plan in 58 local government areas of the state could be difficult in the long run, given that the state has set aside funds for mental health care and services at the local government level.

Compared to many other states, California seems to be in a better position to receive a large number of new callers as the 988 news spreads, according to some mental health leaders.

“It’s important, it needs to, it will happen,” said Le Ondra Clark Harvey, President of the California Public Health Agency, which includes 13 state call centers. “When this proverb is translated, our institutions are ready to go to work.”

Between 2016 and 2020, California National Suicide Prevention Centers received a 67% increase in calls, a number that still persists as the disease progresses. Despite this, local call centers have been able to do so answer 90% of callsaccording to data from the National Lifeline Prevention Center.

In comparison, in Vermont, this Number of responses in the state shine 52%; if Texas, 40%; and in Wyoming, 16%organization data shows.

“When this proverb is translated, our institutions are ready to go to work.”

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, California Council of Public Health Institutions

Getting an answer in the state is important because local call centers are more aware of the resources available than landline centers that receive calls when there is no one in the house.

Call centers in California say they predict the flow of calls, and are investing in infrastructure and training to plan. To support this, the State Department of Health $ 20 million authorized in the previous fall. This year’s budget includes an additional $ 8 million to support call centers.

Bill followed by the legislature will raise additional funds for the program by placing money in the mobile line. Some federal bill it will also bring additional funding for telephone lines and crisis services, if applicable.

Jonathan Porteus, chief executive officer of Sacramento-based WellSpace Health, which operates a high-risk suicide line in the state, estimates that his center’s calls could triple in the coming months. As news spreads and more people seek help, he said he is confident on how his organization will be able to take calls and text.

But he is worried about what will happen next. What happens if a caller commits suicide requiring immediate mental health support in a place where there is none? What if they are far away? Or snow?

“For the most part, the resources are very flexible,” he said. The state patch system, the district level for mental health care could mean some states can deliver less than what the public expects, said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the California Association of Health Directors.

“The big side is the 988 pushes us all to dream about what it could be and what it could be,” she said.

The challenge is particularly acute in rural areas struggling to recruit mental health professionals. Cabrera noted that in Mono district, in Eastern Sierra Leone, even the Sheriff’s Department is closed between midnight and 6 am How can such a densely populated area get all the funding and staff needed to build a full scale, crisis 24-7 system?

“If we want such a system in terms of mental health, it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of physical effort.”

Phebe Bell, Nevada County health director

Some, like Porteus, suggest a regional system might help. But that strategy has its limitations, too, says Phebe Bell, director of Nevada County Public Health, which rises from a hill near Sacramento to the Nevada border. If her district is with other counties and the nearest mobile crisis group is 90 miles away, it will be difficult for them to respond quickly, she said.

“If we want such a system in terms of mental health, it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of body weight,” she said. “And if we don’t, let’s make it clear that it won’t be the same everywhere.”

In contrast, in the Los Angeles area, cell phone response teams are already between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., said Connie Draxler, deputy director of the district’s mental health department.

In the coming weeks, the district plans to contract with outside providers to fill the remaining gap to have a 24/7 mobile phone response system, she said. The extent to which the rest of the system can be built depends, in part, on what the water flows into.

Across the state, local governments are watching the legislation to help.

The bill to increase funding in California, AB 988, was first introduced last year by Democrat Rep. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, who drafted the Miles Hall Lifeline Act to honor a young man in its East Bay district which remains. killed by police while in critical condition.

Learn more about the councilors mentioned in this article

State Assembly, 16th District (San Ramon)

How she voted 2019-2020


District 16 Alkaluma

Ethnicity / Ethnicity











Voter registration





No party


The rest


Campaign Contribution

Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan took it at least
$ 1.1 million
from Holiday
the field since its election to parliament. This represents
of total campaign contributions.

Last year, the bill faced opposition from the telecommunications industry and was introduced. Months of negotiations between industry representatives and the author and sponsor this summer have finally resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of money – reducing it from the original 80 cents to 30 cents in the current bill. Now the industry has ignored opposition.

Janus Norman, president of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, said the companies he represents know the importance of improving mental health.

“Honestly, again, we don’t work in space,” he said. “My companies are made up of professionals who live in the community and know things. We address mental health problems among our staff. We see the impact of the disease in explaining some of their concerns. If we can find a meaningful place to be in a situation that helps, we want to do it. “

Bauer-Kahan said she was “surprised” by the support given to all parties this year for the resolution, which she described as a “love affair.”

“I’m a mother,” she said. “I got this need and I realized that we are failing families and we are failing people who are suffering.”

She stressed that the phone line is available to people of all ages, including children and young people in crisis.

“If we can find a meaningful place to be in a supportive environment, we want to do that.”

Janus Norman, California Cable and Telecommunications Association

Other states are looking at California.

Stephanie Pasternak, the state director of the National Organization for Mental Illness, said the implementation of the bill here “would be a major step forward” for the country’s efforts.

But even as the cost of mobile phones goes up, many mental health leaders in the state say efforts to change the system are at an early stage. The state trade union should return to the legislature in the coming months with more light on what lies ahead.

Tara Gamboa-Eastman, senior consultant with the Steinberg Institute in Sacramento, who co-sponsored AB 988 said “In a beautiful world, when the 988 is launched it will be perfectly ready to go.”

While this is not the case, she said she was still confident in the direction the state was taking in responding to people in need. She hopes all local governments will have a solution to the labor crisis by January 2029.

“In the long run, I think we’re starting to see the parts coming together,” she said.

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