California will launch 988, a new mental health hotline like 911

It’s Monday. California is preparing to launch a new mental health hotline. In addition, gas prices are higher than ever.

Californians dealing with mental health crises will soon be able to seek help by dialing 988, a new service that is expected to improve access to psychiatric care as levels of anxiety, depression and other disorders increase.

The hotline, similar to the 911 but for psychiatric instead of medical emergencies, launched across the country on July 16th. But the introduction in much of the country, including California, is far from perfect.

In October 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed bipartisan legislation allowing people to reach the National Suicide Prevention Line, which has existed since 2005, by dialing 988. (The current hotline number is 800-273-8255.)

An easier-to-remember number is expected to lead to an influx of people seeking mental health help. But it has also raised fears that call centers will not have the infrastructure or staff to deal with the likely increase in callers, many of whom may be in crisis.

This month, RAND Corporation published the results of a survey that found that less than half of public health workers across the country believe they are prepared in terms of funding, staffing and infrastructure. “Our findings confirm what many advocates and experts feared,” said Ryan McBain, a policy researcher at RAND.

Last year, approximately 17 percent of calls to the existing hotline were abandoned before the caller could receive help, according to a recent analysis by the New York Times. In California, the figure is between 10 and 15 percent, the analysis found.

“We know it will take time to build on what really was a system that was under-resourced and quite fragmented,” said my colleague Steve, Dr. John Palmieri, who is leading the introduction of the 988 Administration of Abuse. with substances and mental health. Eder.

In December, the Biden administration announced a $ 284 million infusion to upgrade infrastructure and strengthen call centers across the country. In California, officials pledged an additional $ 20 million to the 13 public and private call centers that answer hotlines, “so we can meet with Californians where they are and expand our resources and support in these difficult times, “Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

The proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which is expected to be approved by the legislature this week, includes another $ 8 million to support call centers with the introduction of 988. However, some advocates say funding remains insufficient.

The federal law, which created 988, gave U.S. lawmakers the ability to raise money for call centers and other mental health services by charging a monthly fee for telephone bills, but only four states have passed such legislation.

In California, AB 988 will set up a phone charge that will be limited to $ 0.30 per line per month, said assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, author of the bill. The tax will eventually bring in $ 194 million a year, which will help keep staff in call centers and pay for mobile crisis teams to answer callers, she said.

“Like 911, 988 will forever be a system that people in a mental health crisis have access to,” she told me. “Like our 911 system, it needs constant funding that is consistent.”

12 drinking roses now or at any time of the year.


Today’s advice comes from Anastasia Schmol, who recommends Hosp Grove Trails near San Diego:

“Hosp Grove is full of eucalyptus trails in Carlsbad, where we walk our dogs. Eucalyptus is a natural flea preparation. We have lived in Carlsbad for 30 years and we have enjoyed the antics of crows, the strong and wonderful smell of trees, the friendliness of the community and easy access to a wonderful holiday in nature. ”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Send your suggestions to [email protected] We will share more in the next issues of the newsletter.


Summer is here. What is your favorite part of the season in California?

Email us at [email protected] with your stories, memories or recommendations.


If you haven’t already, this summer may be your chance to see the iconic presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.

The paintings, unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in 2018, will be on display at the de Young Museum in San Francisco on Saturday.

The artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, were the first African-American artists to be commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to create official portraits of a president or first lady. The works will be on view at De Young until August 14.


Thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. – Sum

PS Here today’s mini crossword puzzleand clue: Hairy leg (3 letters).

Briana Scalia, Mariel Wamsley and Jaevon Williams contributed to California Today. You can contact the team at [email protected].

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