Why Do We Need 9-8-8? Animated Video

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Nationwide including in Georgia 988 is the new three digit dialing code that enables individuals to call text or chat to reach behavioral health crisis services through the national suicide and crisis lifeline. 988 is a critical resource that will strengthen and transform the behavioral health crisis system both in Georgia and around the country. We will begin by discussing why this is such a vital resource.
Over the last decade, and in recent years, we've seen significant increases in the number of individuals in need of mental health and substance use disorder services. In Georgia alone, there are approximately 800 calls to the existing crisis line each day. We have also seen increases in the need for care exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. We know there are populations in Georgia that are more significantly impacted. As one example the number of suicides among individuals living in rural areas has increased in recent years. More and more, we also see young people reaching out for help.

This is a critical time for both our state and our country and 988 will be a much-needed resource to continue to promote access to care we do stigma to seeking services and to ensure individuals in crisis are able to access the right type of support from behavioral health professionals. Georgia has been working over the last decade to make investments in the behavioral health system. The system is structured across three key components. Someone to call represents the call center, which in Georgia is a statewide call center known as the Georgia crisis and access line or G Cal G Cal is available to individuals 24/7 Buy call text or chat. The second component someone to respond refers to mobile crisis teams.


These are teams of behavioral health professionals and clinicians who are trained to work with individuals in crisis if someone calls the Georgia crisis and access line, and it is determined that the individual needs additional in-person support a mobile crisis team can be dispatched to help de-escalate the crisis or connect the person with the care they need. This brings us to our third component of the crisis system a safe place to go for crisis care. This refers to community-based behavioral health centers located around the state individuals can walk into these facilities to receive support and services. While Georgia has made significant strides in expanding and enhancing the crisis system across these areas over recent years. We remain challenged by staffing shortages and increases in demand.


This is something that DB HDD and state partners continue to address as 988 rolls out. With 988 there is a projected increase in the number of individuals that may be reaching out for help. Based on national projections provided by SAMSA. The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and their partner vibrant Georgia anticipates the volume of individuals calling and reaching out for support good double within the first years of 988. This will have downstream impacts and create additional demand on our mobile crisis teams and behavioral health crisis providers. Within the first six months that 988 has been active from July 2022 to December 2022. We have seen an increase across these three areas of our crisis system. dB HDD continues to monitor this data closely to understand where there are greater areas of need and how 988 is impacting our crisis system. We also anticipate that once national mass marketing for 988 is launched in 2023. This will increase the demand of calls to 988 SAMSA.

The national authority for 988 acknowledges that 988 will take time to be fully implemented. We know that when 911 was established as an emergency resource, it took more than 30 years to build out robust capacity across the country. It will take time to build out the right level of services to meet the needs of individuals living across our state both in urban and rural areas. Nationally SAMSA has laid out a five year vision focusing first on building call center capacity, followed by continuing to create additional mobile crisis teams as well as additional community based crisis facilities to enable individuals to access care where they live. As we monitored the data in Georgia to understand the demand for services we will continue to identify areas of need.

This will likely include expanding our staff across the crisis system and examining our training policies, procedures and technology to continuously improve and enhance the quality of services. The efforts to transform our system will require additional investment. We are grateful to our state government partners, the governor's office and other stakeholders who have invested both funds and time to build out Georgia's crisis system and who continue to provide feedback and support as we work to build out 988. Together, as we continue to see significant demand for services.

We have identified a need for additional funding to expand our call center capacity, add more mobile crisis teams and continue to build and enhance facilities across the state and additional funding to intervene earlier with Georgians behavioral health needs will help our state over time, reduce crisis episode and mitigate the demand for crisis services. The DB HDD team and all the community partners who have contributed their expertise to this rollout are excited about the opportunities 988 provides and we are thankful to our stakeholders for all their support and feedback as we all embark on this journey.

We look forward to continuing to enhance our behavioral health crisis system to ensure Georgians in need of crisis services are able to access the right care in the right place at the right time.


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