State gets grant to start prep for new national suicide lifeline code – 988

​​​​​​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky has received $340,000 in grant funding to assist with planning and logistics for the nationwide transition to a simplified behavioral health crisis line to be known as 988, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday.

Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL), awarded the funding.

“A simplified, three-digit national hotline creates access to mental health care similar to that available for physical health through the 911 system and represents the next giant step in reducing stigma for those at risk or in need of behavioral health services and care,” Beshear said.

In July 2022, the new 988 hotline will become the national dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, replacing the current phone number of 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Americans needing support should continue to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) until then.

“Access to mental health and crisis support has never been more critical for Americans,” said Kimberly Williams, president and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health. “Vibrant is committed to providing the states and territories with some of the resources they’ll need to plan for the implementation of 988 and to support their local crisis centers. By working together, we will increase access to care, reduce the stigma around mental health and, ultimately, save lives.”

The Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID), Kentucky’s 988 planning grant recipient, will collaborate with state leadership, suicide prevention experts, people with lived experience and other stakeholders to create a 988 implementation plan and support the Lifeline’s operational, clinical and performance standards that allow access to care.

“The opportunity this planning grant provides is vital in ensuring that all residents of the commonwealth have access to behavioral health resources when they need them,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander. “We are extremely grateful for the extra support and guidance as we work through the transition process.”

Dr. Lionel Phelps, vice president for continuous quality improvement at RiverValley Consulting Services, helps lead one of the 10 Community Mental Health Centers in Kentucky that are accredited by the NSPL.

He said, “More lives will be saved when there is a faster, easier way for people to access the help they need when they’re in crisis.”

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