This month, we are celebrating the one year anniversary of 988 Mental Health Lifeline, a three-digit number implemented for anyone experiencing or assisting with a mental health crisis. Think 911, but for the brain.
And also, you can text, which can be an actual lifesaver for someone unable speak in the deadlock of a mental health emergency.
In year one, 988 in Oklahoma received 39,831 calls according to Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, which averages nearly 3,300 calls per month. This is both alarming and unsurprising given that 4.1% of adults in Oklahoma thought seriously about suicide, and 10% of students reported attempting suicide these past twelve months.
We are amidst a mental health crisis in Oklahoma, rendering this comprehensive crisis response system critical in the restoration of our friends’, neighbors’ and loved ones’ ability to thrive.
988 was born of a need for rapidity and ease. It is the result of a three-year collaborative effort by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as these three entities worked with Congress and the Biden administration to address the need for all Americans to have access to immediate assistance in these delicate times of need.
The value is inarguable and the impact, substantial. Data shows an 89% stabilization rate through 988, meaning the vast majority of calls do not require an in-person response – though the Mobile Crisis Team is ready to move 24/7 should the circumstances deem it necessary.