Funding from the American Rescue Plan Will Help States Implement a Bennet-Backed Bill to Shorten National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 9-8-8
On Monday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced that Colorado will receive up to $2.4 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the Department of Health and Human Services to implement 9-8-8 as the new, easy-to-remember National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
This funding, which was allocated in the American Rescue Plan Act and Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations, will help Colorado make mental health support more accessible and expand the lifeline’s services.
“Everywhere I go in Colorado, I hear how our country’s mental and behavioral health crisis is only getting worse,” said Bennet. “Shortening the suicide prevention lifeline to expand its services and reach is a strong step toward making mental health support more accessible to Coloradans and addressing the crisis. I’m glad our state will receive this critical funding to help make this a swift and easy transition.”
In July 2021, Bennet introduced the Suicide and Crisis Outreach Prevention Enhancement Act with U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), which would expand and enhance the capacity of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and mental health crisis centers. The bill aims to increase awareness of the Lifeline through outreach campaigns, collect and report on demographic data on individuals accessing the lifeline, as well as increase the capacity of the lifeline and crisis centers to provide mental health crisis intervention services.
In December 2019, Bennet co-sponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which designates 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline and ensures states have the flexibility to strengthen local crisis call centers. In October 2020, the bill was signed into law. The 9-8-8 hotline will be implemented in July 2022.
In total, the states will receive $282 million to help make this transition and expand lifeline services. In Colorado, the funding can’t come too soon. As covered in a recent On Edge feature story, the state of Colorado has the nation’s highest rate of adult mental illness and lowest access to care.
The funding includes:
- $177 million to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network operations and telephone infrastructure, including centralized chat and text response, backup center capacity, and special services, such as a sub-network for Spanish language-speakers.
- $105 million to build up staffing across states’ local crisis call centers.