Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Mental Health Professionals Respond to New 988 Lifeline


People facing “mental health emergencies” can now dial 988 for help.

The federal number debuted on Saturday, July 16. It connects callers to existing National Suicide Prevention Lifelife and offers additional resources.

We were able to speak to local public safety officials and mental health professionals about their thoughts on the new lifeline.

Registered Professional Clinical Counselor Cynthia Stava tells me she is relieved that a new resource is available for people who may be experiencing a mental health emergency, especially when professionals like her are unavailable.

“If I’m not there, or if they can’t reach me, I really want them to have a resource, and I think that’s the resource that would be most effective for them,” Stava says.

The new 988 line connects calls to the existing national suicide prevention line.

I asked Dr. Clark, CEO of the California Council of Behavioral Health Agencies, why changing phone numbers is so important.

“We know so many people have trouble remembering this number, 988 is easy, you get it. It’s 911 or 988 and allows people to rationalize, you know their crises, call 988 instead of 911 if it’s a mental health crisis,” says Dr. Clark Harvey.

The California Council of Behavioral Health Agencies represents four of California’s 13 call centers.

Dr Clack Harvey said callers in California will receive help from professionals in the state when dialing 988.

“Our 13 crisis centers operate here in the state, but if someone from California is out of state and they have a California number, they will be redirected to California,” says Dr. Clark Harvey.

According to data from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, California Lifeline call volume has increased 67% since 2016.

Here in the Coachella Valley, Stava sees a need for mental health resources, especially for people who may not have the financial means to afford therapy.

“I certainly know that when I’ve worked in other treatment centers people were homeless, and so they came to our facility and they were really struggling and for me, suicide was really a norm.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, only 2% of Lifeline calls require a response from law enforcement or emergency medical services.

sergeant. Edward Soto of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared his response to the new 988 line.

“Although the members of our service are trained to respond to people who are going through a psychiatric crisis, sometimes people do not need the intervention of the police to help them solve their problems. The 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline is a great resource for people who just want to talk or chat with a mental health counselor,” shared Sgt. In a way to.

Mental health professionals like Dr. Clark Harvey hope that having so much attention around 988 will help break down the stigma surrounding mental health.

“When you think of Indigenous black people, people of color, bipoc communities, or LGBTQ plus communities. There’s been a lot of stigma and shame around seeking mental health help,” says Dr. Clark Harvey .

The resources provided by 988 are expected to increase in the coming years.

People can call or text 988 for themselves or if they are worried about someone else who might need help.


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