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Over 40 Organizations Urge Congress to Adopt a Nationwide Three-Digit Phone Number for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Support for the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act is led by national organizations dedicated to increasing Americans’ access to quality, evidence-based mental health care and suicide prevention services

Centerstone and a coalition of over 40 other behavioral healthcare organizations and nonprofits extend its strong support for H.R. 4194 – The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act to establish 988 as the three-digit telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), has bipartisan support in Congress led by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA); Greg Gianforte (R-MT); and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

Behavioral health leaders from across the nation are urging Congress to pass the bill and ensure this service is universally available and fully funded.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall. For people ages 10-34, it is the second leading cause of death. Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness in a given year, yet only about 40% receive treatment, according to a 2018 report from the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. An easy-to-remember three-digit hotline for mental health and suicide prevention would make crisis resources more accessible and help save lives.

“The need for an easy-to-recall number during times of mental health crisis, like 988, is more urgent than ever as suicides are on the rise in nearly all demographics across the nation,” said Becky Stoll, LCSW, Vice President, Crisis & Disaster Management at Centerstone. “A dedicated three-digit  number for those experiencing a mental health crisis would be a landmark step for the field of mental health; making it easier to support those in emotional pain and begin the journey toward healing.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which recommended 988 serve as the suicide prevention hotline, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide, and more than 1.4 million adults attempted suicide in 2017. Establishing a universal three-digit telephone number will reach those in need while simultaneously reducing the burden on 911 for mental health emergencies.

“For too long our current system for mental health crisis services has been underfunded and undervalued,” said Colleen Creighton, Executive Director for the American Association of Suicidology. “We know that 911 is not adequately equipped to handle mental health emergencies. Establishing 988 as a dedicated number would transform access to mental health resources and ultimately save lives.”

“Passing the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act would be a step in the right direction in providing immediate access to anyone, anytime, anywhere in debilitating emotional pain, said David Covington, CEO & President of RI International. “A dedicated line will also help address the intensely rooted stigma that makes it so difficult for those with mental health conditions to pick up the phone and seek help.”

The following behavioral health organizations and companies urge Congress to pass the bill:

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

American Association of Suicidology

American Counseling Association

American Dance Therapy Association

American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine

American Group Psychotherapy Association

American Medical Student Association

American Psychiatric Nurses Association

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare

Association for Behavioral Health & Wellness

Atrium Health

Behavioral Health Link

Behavioral Health Response

Brady United

Centerstone

Clinical Social Work Association

Concert Health

Connections Health Solutions

Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy and Action

Hartford HealthCare

Health Innovation Alliance

Henry Ford Health System

InSight Telepsychiatry

The Jason Foundation

Kevin & Margaret Hines Foundation

Mental Health America

National Association for Behavioral Healthcare

National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors

National Association of Crisis Organization Directors

National Association for Rural Mental Health

National Association of Social Workers

National Board for Certified Counselors

National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health

Netsmart

Now Matters Now

Opioid Safety Alliance

Postpartum Support International

Regroup Telehealth, Inc.

RI International

School Social Work Association of America

SMART Recovery

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

2020 Mom

Tourette Association of America

The Trevor Project

Zero Suicide International

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