In a major step towards improving our nation’s response to people experiencing mental health crises, on July 16, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) transitioned to the new, national 988 dialing code for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Most people in crisis call the general 911 emergency line for help. Although this system is convenient for deploying first responders, in most places, it is an inefficient way to connect people to behavioral health services, and often results in law enforcement being dispatched to situations that do not require a police response. The new 988 dialing code directly connects people to trained crisis responders within the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network, creating a valuable opportunity to increase connections to compassionate and accessible care.
This opportunity is significant for law enforcement and others in the criminal justice system, who have traditionally had limited means for connecting people to crisis services. Unfortunately, people in contact with the criminal justice system have higher rates of behavioral health needs and are at an elevated risk of suicide. Rates of mental health conditions are 3 to 5 times higher among people who are incarcerated than people who are not, and rates of substance use conditions are 12 to 14 times higher. Suicide risk is 62 percent higher for those who have been incarcerated as compared to the general population and risk of death is higher overall.
Fortunately, the transition to the 988 Lifeline provides an easier way to connect people to crisis care. Law enforcement, jail, courts, and reentry service providers can now incorporate information about the 988 Lifeline in their planning strategies to better ensure people have the resources to be successful and weather mental health challenges.
The best way to reduce the overincarceration of people with mental illness and substance use disorders is to keep them out of the justice system in the first place. The new 988 Lifeline is the first step in an unprecedented effort to create an integrated crisis continuum that will expand access to proper treatment and advance comprehensive, cross-systems change to help people in crisis.
- SAMHSA: The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
- The Council of State Governments Justice Center: How to Use 988 to Respond to Behavioral Health Crisis Calls
- The CSG Justice Center: Tips for Successfully Implementing a 911 Dispatch Diversion Program
- Taking the Call Session: Identifying and Triaging Calls: 911, 311, 988, and Beyond
- SAMHSA: 988 Convening Playbook for States, Territories, and Tribes
The affordable housing crisis has increased the need for new housing developments in communities across the U.S., particularly…Read More
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), The…Read More
With unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022…Read More
The affordable housing crisis has increased the need for new housing developments in communities across the U.S., particularly for people leaving prison and jail who have behavioral health needs. To support these efforts, some local leaders have started developing supportive housing, which is an evidence-based intervention that combines affordable housing with wraparound services and has no residency time limit.Read More
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center is seeking applicants to join the nationwide Criminal Justice-Mental Health Learning Sites Program, which will highlight effective approaches from crisis response through courts, jails, probation, and community-based programs.Read More
With unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022 yesterday, officially approving the legislation sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Tom Emmer (R-MN). The bill will expand and improve upon the success of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) to give the country’s criminal justice and mental health systems the tools they need to serve some of their most vulnerable individuals. It will also provide the resources to help communities divert people from the criminal justice system when appropriate.Read More
On December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2023. Among other administration priorities, the omnibus spending bill funds various state and local justice system grant programs within the U.S. Department of Justice.Read More
Community leaders around the country have heralded the arrival of 988—the 3-digit code for people to reach the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline—as an essential new resource to shift people in crisis toward appropriate care.Read More