Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

988 Crisis Hotline Legislation Moves Slowly

March 17, 2022 3:55 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 (S. 2661) creates 988, a 3-digit mental health crisis line. 988 will be a crucial tool to link people with trained staff who can provide on-the-phone assistance or refer to  crisis response, reducing the burden on local law enforcement, emergency rooms, jails and state hospitals. However, the federal legislation is not funded – recommending a state-enacted fee on phone services.  

The phone fee has been a major hang-up for HB 2281.  Ultimately, the bill was passed by the House Health and Human Services Committee after a lot of negotiation with phone companies to reduce the monthly phone fee from 50 cents to 20 cents.  Then, the bill was referred to the House Energy Utilities and Environment Committee, where the fee was pulled out, recommending funding from the state general fund and moving it into House Substitute for SB 19.  The legislation must still pass the full House of Representatives before it can be addressed by the Senate.

Converting and expanding our current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a fully functional front door to behavioral health crisis response in Kansas resolves a glaring gap in the continuum of care. Families need somewhere to call when a crisis occurs for themselves or their loved ones – a link to a live voice to deescalate the situation or link to appropriate interventions and resources.

KDADS has fulfilled the federal planning requirements and phone services will start directing 988 calls July 16, 2022.  The Legislature must act to assure the hotline is operational and the necessary trained response services are in place with funding.

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4744, Topeka, KS  66604  785-969-1617

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