Crisis Call Centers Save Lives. A Promising Federal Hotline Desperately Needs Funding.

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on millions of Americans' mental health. Social isolation, fear of the deadly virus, and economic fallout have created a toxic combination that has increased rates of depression, overdose, and suicide. Therapists across the country are fully booked as they deal with the surge of Americans seeking treatment, and the inability to access counseling has left lives at stake. But a new, desperately needed federal hotline has the potential to change that.

Sign now to demand states fund 9-8-8!

The 9-8-8 crisis hotline – an alternative to 9-1-1 – will offer many long overdue services for those suffering from mental health crises. 

Not only will counselors be able to provide immediate support for callers, they will also eventually be able to dispatch trained mental health responders, a crucial victory for those who have long advocated against police intervention into mental health crises. We know that police encounters with mentally ill people can be deadly. On top of that, with fewer law enforcement officers inappropriately dispatched and less emergency room space taken up by mental health incidents, 9-8-8 will actually reduce total money spent on reactive mental health services states are used to deploying. Preventative approaches to mental health work, and it's time states invest in them. 

But even before its launch, there are fears that the vital hotline will go underfunded, leaving people in crisis on hold and without help.

Because demand for these services is so high, experts fear the hotline may not be equipped to meet everyone's needs. Already, in its current iteration as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, wait times are adding up and callers are telling stories of self harming or overdosing because they could not get to a counselor. A simple, very small state tax on phone bills – the same type that many states use to fund 9-1-1 – can help supplement federal funds and support the incredible 9-8-8 hotline's rollout. 

This tiny tax – truly cents per month – is a small price to pay for saving lives. Sign the petition now to encourage every U.S. state to support this federal program by implementing a small tax on phone bills to fund it.

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