Mississippi joins nation in celebrating availability of new crisis hotline

Published 1:55 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

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JACKSON — After more than two years of advocacy and planning, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Mississippi joins mental health advocates across the country to celebrate the nationwide availability of 988—the new three-digit number for people to call or text during mental health, substance use or suicide crisis.

The hotline officially launched Saturday, July 16, according to a statement from NAMI Mississippi.

“The availability of 988 … is a tremendous step toward providing life-saving support that will help countless people experiencing a mental health, substance use or suicide crisis, and their families,” said Sitaniel Wimbley, Executive Director of NAMI Mississippi. “But the work is only beginning. 988 provides us an opportunity to reimagine how our state responds to people in crisis. Mississippi must act now to continue to invest in 988 and a crisis response system and ensure everyone experiencing a mental health crisis receives the mental health response they deserve.”

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With 988 now available nationwide, anyone can call or text 988 (or use online chat services at 988lifeline.org) and be connected to trained crisis counselors that are part of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline network. These crisis counselors are trained to help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress, and they are able to resolve more than 90 percent of calls over the phone. NAMI has more information available here about what is and is not changing with today’s nationwide availability of 988.

While the new number is now live, efforts to build the system’s capacity in Mississippi to help everyone in crisis will continue in the weeks, months and years to come. Not every crisis can be resolved over the phone. While everyone will now have access to the Lifeline via 988, this does not mean that mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization options that provide effective care to people in crisis are available for everyone who contacts 988. Right now, what is available differs community by community. Our policymakers must act to build and invest in local resources so that everyone in crisis has someone to talk to (local 24/7 crisis call centers), someone to respond (mobile crisis teams consisting of mental health professionals instead of law enforcement) and somewhere to go (short term crisis stabilization options). Learn more about this vision here. 

NAMI Mississippi states the organization looks forward to working with policymakers and the greater community to share more about the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and how Mississippi can continue to build a full system to help people experiencing a mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis and their families.

NAMI Mississippi, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit state organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a non-profit advocacy organization. NAMI groups at the local affiliate, state, and national levels share one common goal: To improve the quality of life of persons living with serious mental illness along with their friends and families. NAMI Mississippi is made up of family members, peers, behavioral health professionals and friends working to accomplish its mission through mutual support, education, advocacy, and research.