Proposal for 9-8-8 Crisis Number
Every day, NAMI leaders across the country hear the challenges that people affected by mental illness face in trying to access crisis services. A new effort to create a nationwide 3-digit number for mental health crises and suicide prevention is a major step toward helping people get help when they are most in need.
But we need your help.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has proposed designating 9-8-8 as the national number for mental health crises and suicide prevention. A comment period is now open through February 14 to advise the FCC on next steps. More information on how to submit comments can be found below.
Why 9-8-8 will help people with mental illness
Today, people experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts have to navigate a range of hard-to-remember hotline numbers that differ in every community. And, these hotlines often lack the infrastructure, staff and supports to provide the right response at the right time.
Without adequate and timely care, people with mental illness disproportionately end up on our streets, in jails, and in emergency departments. To prevent these outcomes, we need accessible crisis care as a core part of our mental health service system – in every community.
A well-designed crisis response system can mean the difference between life and death for people experiencing a psychiatric emergency. It’s time that people experiencing a mental health crisis get the same type of help as those experiencing a physical health emergency. A national 3-digit number focused on mental health crises and suicide prevention will be an important first step in getting people the help they need and deserve.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now accepting comments, and we need you to speak up. Numbers count, so it is important for NAMI advocates and NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates to raise their voice to support this proposed rule. We encourage you to submit comments on behalf of NAMI Montgomery County. In addition, we hope you will also consider sending out information to your email lists to give your advocates an opportunity to respond, as well (see #2 below).
Deadline: All comments must be submitted by February 14, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST.
1. Submitting comments on behalf of NAMI Montgomery County:
Submit comments by going here. In the “Proceeding” section, write “18-336” or search “suicide.” At the bottom of the form, cut and paste the following comments. Please add a story or information about what this hotline would mean to our community in Montgomery County, MD.
On behalf of NAMI Montgomery County, part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I am pleased to submit comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposal “Implementation of the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018.” NAMI Montgomery County fully supports the FCC’s proposal to designate a nationwide, three-digit number (9-8-8) for suicide prevention and other mental health crises. We believe this proposed change is a critical step in the right direction and will make it easy for all Americans to know who to call in a mental health crisis.
We strongly urge the FCC and other policy leaders to make it a priority for the new 9-8-8 system to be nationally available and adequately resourced, so that all Americans have access to this crisis line. We also urge the FCC to include measures that incorporate text messaging and other existing resources into this new network. It is important that we not only invest in simplifying access to the hotline but also in expanding the capacity for the hotline to provide timely responses to all mental health crises.
<Insert personal paragraph about what this would mean to your community or share a story when this would’ve helped a NAMI member get help when they needed it.>
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments and for your commitment to achieving our shared goal of improving access to crisis support for all Americans.
NAMI Montgomery County
2. Submitting Comments as an Individual:
We encourage you to also share information with your lists for your advocates to submit personal comments. You can share this link for your advocates to submit a comment. Ask them to search “suicide” or enter “18-336” in the “Proceeding” section.
Sample message to your email lists:
Subject Line: Help Us Make 988 a Reality
Our nation is experiencing a mental health and suicide crisis; its time our emergency systems are set up to help.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed to make 9-8-8 the national number for mental health crisis and suicide prevention. It’s important that the FCC hears from you to know how important an easy-to-use, 3-digit number for mental health emergencies is to our community.
Submit comments to the FCC here. Use the below template or let them know what implementing 9-8-8 as a 3-digit code for mental health emergencies will mean to you. Personal stories have a great impact so please consider including a note about the importance of easy to access crisis services.
Sample comment to submit:
Our nation needs a nationwide, 3-digit number (9-8-8) for suicide prevention and other mental health crises. Anyone who experiences a mental health crisis should be able to access help as easily as someone experiencing a physical health emergency. A 3-digit number should be available to every community and have the resources to provide help to every American who needs it.
I ask the FCC to make it a priority for the new 9-8-8 system to be nationally available and adequately resourced, so that my community and others can provide the services necessary to anyone in crisis.
<Insert personal paragraph about what this would mean to you, your family, or your community.>
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments and for your commitment to helping every American affected by mental illness.
NOTE: While NAMI is thrilled about this effort, there are many additional steps before 9-8-8 becomes an active number and resource for those in crisis. In the meantime, anyone in crisis should continue to call the existing National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or their local mental health crisis line. Please continue to communicate this information to your members and others in need of support.