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Less than a third of people with severe mental distress who have used 988 Lifeline are likely to do so again, a new study has found.
of 988 Lifeline for suicide and crisis has received millions of calls, texts, and online messages since its launch in summer 2022, but new research shows how mental health resources can reach their full potential. It suggests that this is far from the case.
According to the study, people with severe mental distress are more likely than others to have heard of 988 and to have used Lifeline. the study It was announced on Tuesday at JAMA Network Open. But overall, only a quarter of respondents said they would be likely to call 988 in the future if they or a loved one were experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts, and only a quarter of respondents said they were likely to call 988 in the future if they or a loved one were experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts. , less than a third had already tried Lifeline. There was a high possibility that I would use it again.
“The launch of the 988 hotline was an important step in addressing America’s growing need for mental health services, but why don’t so many people with serious problems choose to use it again? “We need to figure out why that is, and whether that means more training.” “We need more resources and other solutions.” said study co-author Michael A. Lindsay.
The findings are based on a nationally representative survey of approximately 5,000 people conducted in June. Psychological distress was assessed based on self-reported responses to a standardized set of questions about emotions and experiences.
The 988 Lifeline launched in July 2022, moving from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a broader focus and simpler dialing code. Since then, 988 has received approximately 6.5 million calls, texts, and chats, including more than 500,000 in September alone, according to 988. data Published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CNN reached out to the station for insight into Lifeline’s success beyond call volume metrics.
Experts emphasize the importance of tools like the 988 Lifeline as the United States faces a major mental health crisis. 988 and Behavioral Health Crisis Coordination Office Director Monica Johnson called it. “The most innovative initiative in behavioral health” It’s something she’s seen in her decades-long career.
And the important needs make it even more important to get it right.
“I certainly don’t think our data should indicate failure,” said Jonathan Pirtle, an associate professor at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, who led the new study. “We need this in this country, and it’s a big problem. It’s very new and it’s understandable that it’s going to take time to really get it right.”
He said 988 Lifeline’s success includes proactively managing acute crises and connecting people to a broader range of mental health resources.
“This is active supportive listening and evaluation, and it’s a door to care. It’s an intrusion into the system,” he said. “In an ideal world, success would look like being able to get everything done over the phone, but also have a great support system for follow-up care after you hang up or send a text.” Masu.”
Notably, additional analysis of the survey data revealed that people experiencing psychological distress may also reach out to other sources of mental health support, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, friends, and family. was found to be low, Pirtle said.
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“The 988 interaction should leave people with a sense of hope and resources that they can access and benefit from. Successful interactions with Lifeline should be culturally appropriate and locally processed. “It will be done,” Lindsey said.
But better training of mental health professionals will be needed to respond appropriately during lifeline and beyond, the study authors said.
“This lifeline existed before 988, but it was marketed as a suicide prevention lifeline to a much more specific type of caller,” Pirtle said. “988 is a completely different animal. There are more people calling, different challenges, and different types of training need to be conducted to meet callers where they are. Some would probably argue that.”