Advance Notice: Briefs

Michigan preps for Saturday roll out of ‘988’ behavioral health crisis line

By: - July 15, 2022 1:30 pm

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State officials on Thursday announced that Michigan would join the nation in using a new number, 988, to connect residents experiencing behavioral health crises with resources. 

In 2020, Congress designated the 988 dialing code to operate through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s network of more than 200 locally operated and funded crisis centers nationwide. This expands the lifeline to all individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis, including suicidal thoughts or substance abuse issues. 

Anyone experiencing mental health-related distress, thoughts of suicide, a substance use crisis, or emotional distress can call 988 to be connected with a trained counselor. People who are concerned about a loved one who may need support can also call.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline also officers specialized resources for individuals with neurodivergence, veterans, suicide attempt survivors, disaster survivors, loss survivors LGBTQ+ individuals and youth. The lifeline also offers aid in Spanish and resources for maternal mental health, Black mental health, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives and for individuals who are deaf, hard or hearing or who have hearing loss.

Trained counselors will be available 24/7 to answer calls. They will listen to the caller’s problems, assess their needs and connect them with resources, and alert local emergency crisis teams, if necessary, Debra Pinals, medical director for Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a prepared statement. 

The 988 dialing code does not replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or other locally operated crisis lines. Instead it serves as an entry point to connect individuals in need with trained counselors. MDHHS is working to coordinate with 911 and other crisis service providers to ensure a solid infrastructure as the 988 code launches on Saturday. 

“The 988 number is another step toward strengthening and transforming crisis care and mental health services in our state, which is a key focus of the department,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of health and Human Services (DHHS) director. “This universal number means no matter where you live or call from, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.”

Prior to the development of 988, the Michigan Legislature funded the Michigan Crisis and Access Line (MiCAL), which is currently operating in Oakland County and the Upper Peninsula. DHHS was charged with developing MiCAL and implementing 988. 

MiCAL is responsible for answering all 988 calls in all areas of Michigan. However, in Macomb and Kent Counties, Macomb County Community Mental Health, and Network 180 will answer 988 calls with MiCAL providing back-up call coverage. 

Individuals can continue to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255, and MiCAL at 1-844-446-4225, and by dialing 988. 

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson is a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.

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