(COLUMBUS, OH) – Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Director Lori Criss today provided an update on Ohio’s plan to implement a new, three-digit 988 Crisis Hotline to members of the Ohio House Behavioral Health and Recovery Supports Committee. Federal legislation passed in October 2020 requires all states to transition from a 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number to 988 by July 16, 2022.
The national, 10-digit number currently operates in Ohio and is supported by 18 approved and certified suicide prevention lifeline call center providers in the state. 988 builds directly on this foundation and will help connect Ohioans in a mental health or addiction crisis with Ohio’s crisis response and support system via a phone call, chat, or text to the easy-to-remember 3-digit number.
“One reason people in a mental health or addiction crisis don’t get help is because they or their families don’t know who to call or where to go,” Criss said. “We are focused on making help more visible and accessible, and 988 will help provide Ohioans with an appropriate response to their crisis and with connections to care and treatment supports and resources in their communities.”
Specifically, Criss said 988 will:
- Serve as a key entry point into Ohio’s behavioral healthcare response. Many behavioral health crisis situations can be stabilized during a phone call with a trained professional, and if an in-person response is needed, 988 will help dispatch a mobile crisis team to the person in crisis.
- Quickly connect people to the growing community-based crisis care system to which Ohio has prioritized significant resources and investments under Governor Mike DeWine’s leadership.
- Reduce the possibility of Ohioans in a mental health or addiction crisis unnecessarily being sent to hospital Emergency Departments or local jails.
In January 2021, OhioMHAS convened a diverse coalition of stakeholders, including statewide behavioral health provider associations and trade organizations, county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health boards, crisis service providers, members of the General Assembly, people with lived experience, families, and others -- to advise on planning and implementation.
Through the work of this committee, state officials submitted a final implementation plan to the federal government in late January, detailing how Ohio will ensure staffing coverage and funding streams to support the new service. Ohio took an important step in obtaining an in-depth cost actuarial analysis which played a critical role in informing the 988 planning process, both for the short-term implementation, as well as the consideration of funding options for long-term sustainability. OhioMHAS has identified federal funds to cover start-up costs and year one of the 988 implementation and is committed to working with the DeWine Administration and members of the General Assembly to identify a sustainable funding mechanism.
“While there are still significant operational decisions we are waiting on from the federal government, a great deal of thoughtful, careful work is underway in Ohio to ensure we are ready for this transition,” Criss said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the General Assembly and our stakeholders to successfully launch the 988 crisis response system. Just like the implementation of 911 did not happen overnight, 988 will take time, but Ohioans can be confident in the work to ensure people in crisis receive the right response and care they need in their communities,” said Criss.
Angelika McClelland, Deputy Director for Public Affairs
Eric Wandersleben, Director of Media Relations