An Important Resource for Providers: 988

Providers of all types of services to patients in their homes may encounter patients/clients and others who need assistance with mental health and/or substance abuse problems. There is now an alternative to dialing 911 or to calling the police. On July 16, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated the dialing code 988 for national mental health and substance abuse services. This is an important resource for all health providers, especially providers who render services to patients in their homes.

Individuals can call, text or chat with trained behavioral counselors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All 988 calls have been directed to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network as of July 16th. The existing Lifeline will be strengthened and its capabilities will be expanded.

Funding to maintain and expand the network will come from a variety of sources; including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Mental health Block Grants, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program, Medicaid, and state cell phone fees. Other funding partners include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Indian Health Service, and the Department of Transportation. In other words, there is a widespread, concerted effort to help ensure that the network is expanded and remains available.

The development and expansion of the hotline requires involvement of all the states. States that have established 988 mental health lines with fees have usually implemented wireless phone fees to help fund the hotline. Other states that do not require fees are funding programs from general funds or from grants, some of which come from Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant), the current operator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The states are currently in four stages of development and implementation:

The establishment and development of the national 988 network is a complex task. A key issue is how to involve all relevant organizations or participants in a comprehensive process. Another possible barrier to implementation may be lack of staffing, especially in view of the hours of required operation. Insufficient financing may also prove problematic.

The goal of the mental health hotline system is to ensure that every individual may be connected to a trained professional who knows how to respond to people in crisis. This is a laudable goal indeed! Providers of services in patients’/clients’ homes may make liberal use of this resource as they encounter individuals who need assistance with mental health and substance abuse issues. 

A promise to all our clients: Next time we will BEGIN HOSPICE SOONER. ■ 

©2022 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.
No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without the advance written permission of the author.
Source Link: An Important Resource for Providers: 988