Illinois launches 988 number for mental health crises
Illinois officials said they are ready to roll out 988, the new number for those experiencing mental health crises to get connected with help. [Health News Illinois]
The lifeline, which can also accept chats and texts, launched Saturday.
“This will bolster the crisis care continuum in Illinois, better connecting people in crisis with call takers trained in suicide prevention, crisis de-escalation and stabilization,” said David Albert, director of the Department of Human Services’ division of mental health, which will oversee the new calling code in coordination with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The current state budget includes $70 million to implement the 988 call center and increase staffing at six call centers across Illinois.
That boost in staffing comes as a report earlier this year from Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, found just one in five calls to Illinois’ call centers were answered in the first three months of 2022.
Grace Hou, DHS secretary, told reporters last week they have built the capacity where over 85 percent of in-state calls will be answered in Illinois.
“The launch of 988 will help people across the state prevent mental health crises from escalating into emergencies,” she said in a statement.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Illinoisans between the ages of 15 and 34, according to Gov. JB Pritzker’s office, and the fourth leading cause of death for those 35 to 44.