Home Books The new 988 mental health hotline is just the beginning

The new 988 mental health hotline is just the beginning


When you’re in a mental health crisis, the last thing you want to do is try to remember a 10-digit phone number, or worse, have to search for your local crisis hotline. That’s why the National Alliance on Mental Illness is noted the recent federal rollout of a nationwide 988 mental health hotline.

“We’ve needed something like this for a long time, but the pandemic has definitely exacerbated the need,” said Hannah Wesalowski, NAMI’s chief advocacy officer. “We want to make sure that crisis care is accessible and easy for everyone who needs it. That way, 988 can really be the one-stop-shop in most states, rather than having to navigate a network of different crisis lines.”

While NAMI is pleased that 988 is active, it says this is only the beginning of what needs to be done.

“This number is an important step forward, but we want it to be part of the broader crisis continuum of assistance,” Wesalowski said. “We are advocating for resources to make the 988 service as reliable as possible and to add these additional services in crisis situations.”

Need financing

NAMI requires funding for number-related services such as local call routing, mobile crisis hotlines, and workforce development to ensure there are enough trained counselors to meet demand.

Call routing is a high priority for NAMI. Although all 988 callers speak to a professionally trained counselor, the counselor is not always local. Ideally, when people call, they will be directed to a local call center.

“A local call center will be best placed to provide you with resources in your community,” Wesalowski said. “Our goal is not only to solve the current crisis, but to make sure that people get the help they need to recover and stay healthy. We don’t want them to go back to the crisis.”

Some local call centers, she said, can schedule same-day or next-day appointments with a therapist so the caller can begin treatment and have a support system for the future. NAMI also calls for funding for more mobile mental health crisis units, which can be called non-law enforcement agencies, to provide crisis response.

“We’ve criminalized mental health crises for too long, and this really presents an opportunity to change that paradigm,” Wesalowski said. “We want mobile crisis teams made up of nurses, social workers and peer support professionals to be available in every community. We want this to be the first response we send when a personal response is required.”

NAMI started The #ReimagineCrisis initiative to help organizations rethink how the nation responds to people experiencing mental health problems, suicide or substance abuse.

Finally, the organization is looking for additional funds to develop the workforce in this field, which, like many other professions, is experiencing a shortage of workers. Main information publications, from Wall Street Journal to Washington Postreported how hard it is to find a therapist these days.

“The mental health workforce is a huge issue,” Wesalowski said. “We saw this before the pandemic, but the increased mental health needs that have come about as a result of the pandemic have certainly increased the burden on that system.”

NAMI believes it is critical to get more people into the workforce and then help nurture those workers so they can succeed.

“If you look at 988 counselors, for example, it’s not an easy job,” Wesalowski said. “You often talk to people on the worst day of their lives. This is a job that has a high burnout rate. So we have to think about the welfare of the people who are part of this crisis response system and really ensure that we have systems in place to help them and support their mental health as they help other people.”

(courtney/iStock Unreleased)

Source link

Previous articleThe end of the future
Next articleEntry-level job opportunities and US visas, immigration changes