Public Policy Center Helps Transition State to 988 | Nebraska today

With the release of the new version 988 Suicide and lifeline crises On July 16, the United States heads toward a more coherent and comprehensive response to the behavioral health crisis.

The new three-digit 988 – similar to 911 – replaces the 10-digit suicide hotline number for 24/7 crisis care by voice, chat or text. While the new number is being adopted simultaneously across the country, each state has been tasked with setting up call centers and switching infrastructure.

In Nebraska, officials with the Behavioral Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services; Boise Town, which has been supervising the state’s call center for the suicide crisis line since 2005; The University of Nebraska Center for Public Policy, among others, has been in operation since January 2021 to prepare for the transition.

Dennis Pauling, senior director of research at the Center for Public Policy, said she has tasked Stacey Hoffman, senior director of research, along with other center staff, to help the state screen an existing behavioral health care workforce; Develop some recommendations on the formation of mobile crisis teams; Gather data and input from various stakeholders, including people who have experienced a mental health crisis, practitioners and first responders.

“The state has been responsible for the planning efforts, along with Boise Town, and our role is to support their efforts and make sure that what they do is data-driven, based on the best science,” Pauling said. “We help ensure all stakeholder voices are heard, help monitor where we are in implementation and act as an extender of state resources, as we move through this system change. To put this in perspective, when they introduced 911, it took 40 years to fully develop this system.” We’ve been planning the 988 for a year, so there’s a lot going on at once.”

With the transition to 988 currently, Nebraska is also implementing mobile crisis teams, which will respond to 988 calls when needed. These teams will include trained mental health professionals and will be deployed in different media, with personal contacts and remote contacts. Pauling said center staff are working with the state to ensure fair services are provided to all in a sparsely populated state.

“There is a tremendous effort going on in the state right now to make sure that every area of ​​the state has access, and that someone is available to respond — that is the vision,” Pauling said. “We want to make sure we have the capabilities across the country to respond through in-person or virtual communications.”

The 988 also includes more services, other than the original Suicide Lifeline mission. The number 988 will deal with more behavioral health crises and will be linked to the veteran crisis line. State officials anticipate that this will increase the volume of calls and require more trained call center professionals.

Kyle Kenny, Boys Town’s director of programs, spoke at a July 15 press conference about the call center’s business and shared that even before the 988 was announced, the call center was seeing an influx of calls.

“In 2021, we received 8,777 lifeline calls from Nebraskan, and 97.1% de-escalation was done without the need for emergency outside intervention,” Kenney said. “In June 2022, we received 1,073 Lifeline calls from our Nebraskan colleagues, and our call volume increased by 16% over the same time period in 2021.”

The Boise Town call center received 1,240 calls in July.

Pauling said Hoffman would be integral in monitoring and collecting data on the number and type of calls, to make data-driven recommendations about workforce needs across the state.

“There are key performance indicators that all call centers should monitor,” Pauling said. “Some of those indicators are the percentage of calls answered, on hold or on hold, the number diverted to the National Reserve call center.

“We will also look at the types of calls coming into the center, the number of calls being referred to mobile crisis teams and the follow-up that is taking place. The state will be able to make adjustments based on the data and stakeholder voices, which we will continue to collect.”

Learn more about the planning efforts at Nebraska 988.