Rolled out on July 16, 2022, 9-8-8 is a new three-digit number for behavioral health crises that replaces the 10-digit number (1-800-273-8255) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline). Experts are predicting the volume of calls to Lifeline will increase beyond current call levels. To prepare for the 9-8-8 launch, states and U.S. territories will need support to strengthen their current crisis response infrastructure and services.
With private funds from Vibrant Emotional Health, EDC provided coaching and guidance to leaders in state and territorial agencies who have received funding from Vibrant Emotional Health to plan for the 9-8-8 rollout. EDC staff supported grantees to engage key stakeholders and develop practical plans—including preparing for the transition to the new number, post-transition quality control and adjustments, and long-term maintenance of improvements—to ensure that 9-8-8 is a success.
The project has carried out the following activities:
- Provided customized coaching and support to 50 funded grantees across the United States and U.S. territories
- Conducted a 9-8-8 landscape analysis with current Lifeline crisis centers in each funded state and territory
- Developed a 9-8-8 strategic planning template and coached states and territories in completing their plans
- Participated in grantee stakeholder planning meetings
- Convened a robust virtual grantee community of practice, including live and pre-recorded sessions
- Monitored grantee deliverables and status and collaboratively problem-solved with grantees
- The project increased the capacity of 50 grantees to strengthen and support crisis services in their state or territory, as well as reach several dozen stakeholders per grant with critical information in preparing for the 9-8-8 rollout.
- Landscape analysis reports provided detailed information on the services available through each state’s or territory’s current Lifeline crisis centers and illuminated areas needing further development.
- Strategic plans prepared each state and territory grantee to answer the anticipated influx of 9-8-8 calls with appropriate crisis services and capacity building for answering chats or texts within the state or territory.
- Effective 9-8-8 strategic plans also ensured the following:
- 9-8-8 calls are answered quickly in each state or territory, and the response is appropriate to the behavioral health crisis.
- The crisis services mobilized to respond to each call, chat, or text are appropriate and non-punitive, and they protect the dignity of the individual.
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), SAMHSA