National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Launches

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      July 22, 2022

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National 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Launches
Photo courtesy of 69 Bravo Two Black Hawk helitankers snorkel 1,000 gallons of water each from refillable reservoirs at 69 Bravo Helistop.
As of Saturday, July 16, people nationwide experiencing a mental health crisis and in need of immediate help can dial or text 988 and receive assistance through the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number. As the lead agency in developing a seamless rollout of 988, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) has been preparing for this launch for more than a year to ensure operational logistics. Response teams are now in place to enable Los Angeles County community members to call 988 and receive immediate help during a mental health crisis. “988 is a game changer,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who has championed the County’s preparation for the 988 hotline. “Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can dial this short, easy-to-remember number and get immediate life-saving help.” “A key component of this new service is the availability of trained psychiatric mobile crisis response teams who can be accessed through the 988 hotline,” said Lisa Wong, Psy.D., Acting Director of Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. “LACDMH will continue our partnership with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which will serve as the 988 provider in L.A. County.” The 988 Call Center has trained operators who will triage callers to receive the appropriate services, including suicide crisis counseling and mental health deescalation counseling over the phone. They will also triage callers to determine when it is appropriate to dispatch a mobile crisis team and, in rare cases, connection to law enforcement when safety is of concern. Mobile Response Teams Increased In preparation for the launch of 988, L.A. County increased the number of teams of mental health professionals available to respond in person to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The L.A. County Department of Mental Health now operates Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams (PMRT) that consist of unarmed mental health workers who respond in person to people in crisis. These teams operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. In the coming weeks, L.A. County will expand the number of PMRTs available and launch new Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOTs) that will supplement them by providing crisis response outside of PMRT hours, making the services available 24/7. Both PMRTs and MCOTs will be connected through the 988 Call Center. “In some cases, talking to a professional on the phone won’t be enough,” said Supervisor Hahn. “That is why it is so important that we have teams of mental health professionals across the County who can drive out directly to a person in crisis, deescalate situations, and connect people with long-term help. We need to expand these teams so that we have enough to respond to every mental health crisis across the County where they could be helpful and get there quickly. It is a viable alternative to 911.” About LACDMH. As the nation’s largest public mental health department, we ensure access to care and treatment for our most vulnerable residents in a region with more than 10 million people. With an annual budget approaching $3B and a committed staff of 6,000, LACDMH embodies a “heart-forward” approach to supporting hope, recovery and well being across the County. For more information, visit dmh.lacounty.gov; or follow @LACDMH; on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Canyon Chronicle
      July 22, 2022

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