This week, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) has received the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 988 State Planning Grant through Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline). Through this grant, awarded to 49 states and territories, KDADS will develop strategic plans for projected infrastructure needs, volume growth and access to the Lifeline’s new 988 number.
“I am pleased to see Kansas has been awarded this important grant to improve our state’s response to mental health crises,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “The pandemic has heightened the need for modern, comprehensive mental health resources across our state, and the creation of a new 988 number will help Kansans access support quickly during their times of need.”
In July 2022, 988 will become the national three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Americans needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.
Vibrant believes the new 988 number, once implemented, will ensure the Lifeline will continue to be America’s mental health safety net by providing emotional support for people in distress, reducing suicides and mental health crises, and providing a pathway to well-being for all.
“The existing 10-digit Lifeline number has reported a rise in the number of calls they are handling in recent years,” KDADS Secretary Laura Howard said. “We hope the shortened three-digit 988 code, much like the universal 911 code for emergencies, will also become ingrained in our minds so those in need of mental health care especially in times of immediate crisis will easily remember it and reach out for help.”
KDADS Behavioral Health Services Commissioner Andy Brown added, “988 represents a chance for Kansas to modernize and increase public access to behavioral health services in the middle of a crisis, or any other time they may be uncertain about where to turn for help.”
To fulfill that vision, according to Brown, KDADS first must assess the need, build capacity, and plan for implementation. Kansas needs to increase the in-state answer rate for the Lifeline crisis centers and build the infrastructure for suicide prevention and community based behavioral health services needed to serve their callers.
Alongside Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ, Johnson County Mental Health, COMCARE of Sedgwick County, and TBD Solutions LLC, KDADS will develop clear roadmaps to address coordination, capacity, funding and communications surrounding the launch of 988. KDADS will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience, and others to create a 988 implementation plan and support the Lifeline’s operational, clinical and performance standards that allow access to care.
In light of this grant, mental health leaders across Kansas said the following:
“Assisting communities in their efforts to provide crisis services for Kansans is at the core of TBD Solution’s mission,” said Travis Atkinson, Director of Clinical & Crisis Services Consulting. “We look forward to working with KDADS in this vital work to make the 988 implementation a sustainable reality.”
“Having a 24/7 crisis line has been an integral part of our suicide prevention efforts in Johnson County for a long time,” said Rob MacDougall, Johnson County Mental Health Center Director of Emergency Services. “We are honored to be able to use this experience and work alongside experts from across Kansas to implement this resource for our state and our community.”
Joan Tammany, Executive Director at COMCARE of Sedgwick County, said, “COMCARE is very pleased to participate in the 988 Planning Grant and know that lives will be saved when we have a universal number community members can call for help for a mental health crisis.”
“Access to mental health and crisis support has never been more critical for Americans,” said Kimberly Williams, President and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health. “Vibrant is committed to providing the states and territories with some of the resources they’ll need to plan for the implementation of 988 and to support their local crisis centers. By working together, we will increase access to care, reduce the stigma around mental health and, ultimately, save lives.”
About the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 180 local crisis centers, uniting local resources with national best practices. Since its inception in 2005, the Lifeline has engaged in innovative public messaging, development of best practices in mental health, creative partnerships, and more to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all. suicidepreventionlifeline.org
About Vibrant Emotional Health
Vibrant Emotional Health is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families achieve emotional wellbeing. For over 50 years, groundbreaking solutions have delivered high-quality services and support, when, where and how people need it. Vibrant offers confidential emotional support through its state-of-the-art contact center and crisis hotline services that use leading edge telephone, text and web-based technologies and include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, NFL Life Line and NYC Well. Through community wellness programs individuals and families obtain supports and skills they need to thrive, and advocacy and education initiatives promote mental wellbeing as a social responsibility. Each year Vibrant helps more than 2.5 million people live healthier and more vibrant lives advancing access, dignity and respect for all and revolutionizing the system for good. Visit vibrant.org and follow Vibrant on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.