HHS Announces Additional $200 Million in Funding for 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Funding for states, territories, and tribes will help build local capacity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), today announced more than $200 million in new funding for states, territories, and tribes to build local capacity for the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and related crisis services.

“Thanks to President Biden, we are finally and seriously saying to Americans struggling with their mental health: Support is Here!” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Support is here in 988, the three-digit Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and this new funding reflects our commitment to strengthening the crisis care system across our country so Americans can get the care they need.”

The $200.15 million in new funding opportunities for the 988 Lifeline includes:

  • $177.35 million to states and U.S. territories to: improve local response; enhance recruiting, hiring, and training of 988 workforce; implement additional technology and security measures to support infrastructure and effectively coordinate across the crisis continuum; improve support and service for high-risk and underserved populations, including quality assurance and review of critical incidents; and develop and implement comprehensive communication plans,
  • $17.8 million to federally recognized Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations to: improve response, ensure access to culturally competent 988 crisis center support, improve integration and support and ensure navigation and follow-up care, and
  • $5 million for 988 Lifeline crisis follow-up programs that will allow call centers to provide systematic follow-up of suicidal persons who reach out to the 988 Lifeline, enhanced coordination of crisis stabilization, including with 911 and emergency service providers, reduction of unnecessary police engagement and improved connections for high-risk populations.

The Biden-Harris Administration has made an unprecedented investment of nearly $1 billion to support the 988 Lifeline, including an initial $432 million to support the transition to 988 in July 2022, to build up crisis center capacity and to provide special services, including a sub-network for Spanish speakers. Additional funding for the 988 Lifeline has been provided by the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and the federal FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Prior to this investment, the Lifeline, which existed since 2005 as a 1-800 number, had been long underfunded and under-resourced.

“The timely investments in the 988 Lifeline at the federal, state and local levels are helping ensure that many more people in crisis are getting the help and support they need,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “Data continues to show an increase in overall calls, texts and chats from the year prior, and at the same time, answer rates are significantly improving, which means that more people are getting help and they are getting help more quickly, which is crucial for someone in crisis.”

Studies have shown that after speaking with a trained crisis counselor, most 988 Lifeline callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful.

In 2021, according to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 4.8% of adults ages 18 or older (about 12.3 million people) had serious thoughts of suicide, and among adolescents ages 12 to 17, 12.7% (about 3.3 million people) had serious thoughts of suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2021, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people aged 10–14 and 25–34 years.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. To learn how to get support for mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.

To locate a treatment facility or provider, visit FindTreatment.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Published by Tim Rowden

The Grief Project is dedicated to sharing the stories of suicide loss survivors as well as information and research on suicide, mental health, advocacy and prevention. I’m a suicide loss survivor, husband, father, writer and journalist, with 33 years experience as a reporter and editor. I believe sharing our stories can help help others who are struggling, whether they are loss survivors or struggling with depression or other mental health issues. We honor them and honor our loved ones by sharing our stories.

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