988 Up and Running in New Jersey and Nationwide

988, the new number for the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline began operation this past Saturday in New Jersey and across the country. The number will supplement the previous Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which will continue to function indefinitely alongside the new 988 number.

The New Jersey FY23 Budget includes approximately $13 million for 988 call centers within the state, and another $16 million for mobile crisis response teams. Sarah Adelman, Commissioner, NJ Department of Human Services (DHS) spoke on a njspotlightnews.org segment saying, "We have five call centers statewide that are helping support callers who may be connecting to 988, and this is really an evolution and transition of our existing system. With the launch of 988, it will help propel us into a new era of crisis response services so we can be even more accessible to those in need."

In addition to the primary call centers, Rutgers University will host a backup call center that will handle overflow calls at times when all primary call center team members are otherwise pre-occupied.

Susan Loughery, NJAMHAA Immediate Past Board Chair stated, "What 988 represents is a three-digit number for individuals in crisis to be immediately connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline teams, and those teams will be able to talk to individuals in crisis and provide resources . . . those 988 teams would identify resources in that individual's local community, meet the individual where they're at, launch mobile teams to pick the individual up, bring them into services, and identify what is needed first."

Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton, a NJAMHAA member, provides urgent care, substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, and crisis navigation, among many other services. Lisa Merritt, Chief Nurse Executive, for Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton was featured in the segment on njspotlightnews.org saying, "Our crisis navigators went through training embedded in the 911 call centers, they also participated in active training on-site at our crisis program. We provide them with trauma informed care training, de-escalation, and how to assess the individual that's coming in and whatever their crisis may be, whether its mental health, it may be support with medical needs, and just wrapping the services around them."

Click here to view the NJ Spotlight News segment.

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