Hand holding phone

Sharing – Calls are up, but many 988 call centers lack resources to offer in-person help

This was something that we knew was going to be an issue, and it will keep getting worse.

“The Biden administration has dedicated $432 million toward building the capacity of local and backup call centers and providing associated services. But the expectation is that states will come up with the main funding streams.

The 2020 law enacting the 988 number also allows states to pass legislation to add a small fee to cell phone bills as a permanent source of funds for 988 and associated mental health services. So far, only four states have done so, and only two more have proposed legislation.

Pennsylvania is not one of those states, and doesn’t have any other funding plan implemented. “

None of this surprises me. It’s easy to encourage people to call the helpline and to promote messages to that effect. The helplines do a lot of good, and encouraging people to call one is good.

The hard work is developing the proper resources for people who need help after the immediate crisis. That costs money. Money that a significant number of people in the US will balk at paying because it goes to “other people.” These are the same people who balk at paying taxes for schools when they don’t have kids or at higher insurance premiums, let alone the taxes necessary for things like Medicaid, that pay for people who “made poor health decisions.” So, rather than stand up to that kind of thinking, many politicians at the state and local levels will go along with that. They won’t even attempt to provide funds for mental health services.

Some will even go so far as to say those services are just propping up “weak” people who need to get over those issues.

At the end of the day, while we can point to the number of people who talk about mental health and are supported for talking about it, we cannot say we’ve eliminated the stigma associated with it until we all put our money where our mouth is and provide the help that people need.

Until then, I’m afraid that many people will learn lessons the hard way, that it’s easy to write off funding resources for “other people” until you or someone you love winds up being one of them.


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