Supporting Mental Health at the Library

Posted about 2 weeks ago by Phil Shepard
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In July, Virginia implemented the nationwide 988 hotline number to provide free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 access to trained counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. And there is tremendous need, given that:

  • In 2020, the U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes.
  • For people ages 10–34, suicide is a leading cause of death. 
  • From April 2020 through April 2021, over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses. 

Behind each of these data points, there are people, families and communities who have been impacted. Fortunately, in the face of these urgent realities, there is hope. The 988 Lifeline helps thousands of struggling people overcome suicidal crisis or mental-health related distress every day.

People can call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

The federal government and partners from across many industries in the public and private sectors are working together to provide guidance to make our work a little easier.

Notably:

  • The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and its messaging task force developed the 988 Messaging Framework to provide guidance on developing 988-related messaging. We encourage you to closely review these guidelines. The framework provides strategies related to the timing of messaging related to 988. It also discusses the importance of understanding how 988 works locally, following communication best practices, and tailoring 988-related messages for specific audiences. 
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a one-stop shop, the 988 Partner Toolkit, at samhsa.gov/988. The toolkit is intended for SAMHSA’s 988 implementation partners—including crisis call centers, state mental health programs, substance use treatment providers, behavioral health systems, and others—and provides key messages, FAQs, logo, brand guidelines, social media shareables, wallet cards, magnets, media end cards, and other resources that educated on the basics of 988.  SAMHSA will add resources to this toolkit over time. 
  • SAMHSA has worked with partners across several critical industries to create a holistic view of readiness for the implementation of 988 for states, territories, tribes, crisis contact centers, public safety answering points (PSAPs) and behavioral health providers. Through these collaborative efforts, SAMHSA created guidance documents (e.g., “playbooks”) for these critical groups to support implementation of 988. 
  • There are several existing federal resources that can be leveraged to support 988 implementation. Examples from SAMHSA include the crisis set-aside through the Mental Health Block Grant as well as funding through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program. States are also able to leverage Medicaid dollars and State Opioid Response grants. States can find descriptions of these funding sources in the 988 Convening Playbook for States, Territories, and Tribes

While this is an exciting time to reimagine how we provide crisis services in the U.S., the full vision of a transformed crisis care system with 988 at its core will not be built overnight. Transformation of this scale will take time, and we must all work together to make it happen. It is important that we speak with one voice about 988 to ensure clear understanding about what it is and how it will work. As SAMHSA continues updating its partner toolkit and providing guidance on 988 implementation, we look forward to working with all of you to bring these critical services to our community.

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