Gov. Beshear: New 988 Mental Health Crisis Lifeline here to help save lives

Dialing 988
Dialing 988
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 5:44 AM CDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that Kentucky has launched the easy-to-remember three-digit mental health crisis hotline, 988, which connects Kentuckians facing a risk of suicide, mental health distress or an addiction crisis to compassionate and trained counselors who can help.

The 988 suicide and crisis lifeline is available every hour of every day, and counselors respond to calls, chats or text messages directly from Kentuckians in need as well as those who are concerned about a loved one who may need crisis support.

“My administration has always prioritized mental health the same as physical health,” Beshear said. “And with the launch of 988, we have made it easier for Kentuckians to reach out and get the help they need and deserve.”

Officials anticipate an increase in calls due to the new easier-to-use number and text capabilities, and because of the many Kentuckians struggling with their mental health, especially youth.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth and young adults in Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey released in September 2021, 15% of Kentucky high school students reported having seriously considered suicide during the previous year.

In addition, 17.4% of Kentucky middle school students, or nearly 1 in 5, reported that they had seriously considered taking their own life at some point.

“The implementation of this new number comes during a time when Kentuckians are burdened with emotional strains and stressors in our communities,” said Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “The 988 lifeline helps us to build stronger more resilient communities, and this new number will help ensure adequate access for all to mental health care, including residents of all ages living in all communities, as well as the underserved.”

The 988 lifeline is part of a nationwide departure from the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which remains available during the transition.

The Governor noted that Kentucky has worked for over a year to prepare for the launch, which was made possible by a two-year, $1.16 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, sourced from American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The upcoming state budget also included $19.6 million over a two-year period to support increased capacity and infrastructure for 988, as well as to fund mobile crisis services.

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