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All About 988: Learn More During Mental Health Awareness Month
All About 988: Learn More During Mental Health Awareness Month

In 2022, Missouri became part of a “once-in-a-generation change in crisis intervention” when it implemented the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Why is this resource such an impactful addition to our state? Who can utilize it? How can they utilize it? During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re proud to shed light on MCC member Provident Behavioral Health’s role in making this 24/7 helpline a reality. 

What is 988? 

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is an easy-to-remember number that connects people experiencing a mental health crisis to a trained Crisis Intervention Specialist, who can link them to ongoing care while addressing their immediate needs. It officially launched in July 2022 and is now available 24/7 statewide. Provident is the sole Missouri Backup Crisis Center for all statewide Lifeline crisis lines. Its caring, nonjudgmental crisis team has helped callers who are children, older adults, parents concerned about their child, adults struggling with grief, medical professionals who need advice on a patient, and individuals contemplating suicide. In short, 988 is for anyone dealing with a mental health crisis, no matter what they’re going through. 

How To Use It

Anyone can call or text 988 to access the lifeline. Upon calling 988, a trained Crisis Intervention Specialist will answer. They will listen and ask questions to understand what the caller is going through, then work together to craft a plan that includes immediate and ongoing care. The Crisis Intervention Specialists will also provide follow-up support for callers who express thoughts of suicide. All calls to 988 are completely free. 

Why Does Missouri Need It? 

The 988 Lifeline was established to meet a growing need for crisis intervention services across the state and help end the stigma toward those seeking mental health care. The following statistics help illustrate the scope of Missouri’s mental health crisis: 

  • 56% of Missourians age 12-17 who have depression did not receive any care in the last year. (NAMI)
  • 30% of Missourians show indication of anxiety or depression based on reported frequency of symptoms, the 9th highest rate in the US. (CDC)
  • 1,871,902 people in Missouri live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals. (NAMI)
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health Student Survey: Grades 6-12 show slight fluctuations in indicators for mental illness for young people between 2020-2022. (MDMH)
  • Around 26% of Missourians have taken prescription medication for mental health issues over the last six months, the 21st highest-ranking state for this intervention. (CDC)

Who’s Making it Possible? 

When someone calls the lifeline, they’re first routed to their local crisis center. If the local crisis center isn’t able to pick up, the caller is routed to the state backup crisis center (Provident). If the backup crisis center is unable to answer, the call is routed to the national backup network. 

Provident Behavioral Health answers local, state and national calls and is one of six Missouri call centers. It has been providing life-saving crisis work since 1966. Vibrant Emotional Health administers programs and support call centers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides funding for national lifelines. The Missouri Department of Mental Health provides funding for state lifelines and oversees Missouri’s network of call centers. 

To learn more about Provident’s work, check out MCC’s National Suicide Prevention Month blog post by Provident President and Executive Director Kevin Drollinger.