9-8-8 is the first federally mandated three-digit number which connects people to behavioral health resources. The services that are identified in the federal law for 9-8-8 to support people who call 9-8-8 fall into three main areas: 1) Someone to Call; 2) Someone to Respond; and 3) a Safe Place to Go for Help. The law is a result of national advocacy to create an easy-to-remember number to dial/text to receive immediate remote connection to compassionate and accessible crisis intervention and to promote referral (if needed) to supporting face-to-face crisis support for anyone experiencing behavioral health related distress.
Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities has had a statewide 24/7/365 crisis hotline for 16 years, known as the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL). In 2006, this GCAL response was designed to create a consistent telephonic response to Georgians experiencing a mental health and/or substance use disorder crisis. Since that time, GCAL has provided telephonic assessment, brief telephonic crisis intervention, and referral services for individuals in Georgia via their 800 number and subsequently added the MyGCAL app for text/chat, and linkage with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). Georgia has also had statewide mobile crisis services for ~10 years which provide a trained practitioners who can respond in the community when an individual is experiencing a crisis and provide further assessment and intervention. Since the mid-1990s, Georgia’s DBHDD has been building a system of community-based crisis stabilization sites (Behavioral Health Crisis Centers [BHCCs] and Crisis Stabilization Units [CSUs]) to support individuals who need psychiatric stabilization or substance use detoxification