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Health | Public Safety

State Legislators and White House Officials Discuss Transition to 988 Crisis Line Services

By Jonathan Lennartz

White House officials recently convened a meeting with bipartisan state legislative leaders, discussing efforts to address what was described as a “national mental health crisis.” The meeting focused on joint federal and state actions to implement 988 crisis line services, part of a comprehensive strategy announced in May.

Dialogue included state-led initiatives to support call center operations, incorporating follow-up behavioral health care, and broadening accessibility to services. State legislators also discussed current challenges presented by mental health workforce shortages. 

Among the participating legislators was Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher, who in 2014 initiated the idea for a three-digit crisis line in his state. After garnering support from a range of federal and state officials, legislative colleagues, and healthcare workers, Senator Thatcher’s proposal resulted in the creation of the national 988 hotline this year. 

The White House meeting was held in conjunction with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, as suicides in the United States accounted for more than 45,000 deaths in 2020, and preliminary data suggest increased numbers in 2021.

A readout from the meeting, including western legislators in attendance, can be accessed here. For additional reading about Utah’s role in creating the 988 crisis line, click the story below. 

Utah’s Involvement in the Three-Digit Mental Health Hotline: The Origin Story of 988