Bill Proposed Promoting Mental Health Hotline

MOSES LOPEZ (Copy Editor)

California Rep. Tony Cardena recently proposed a bill to help fund the creation of new 988 mental health call centers by July 16, now referred to as the 988 Implementation Act. Similar to 911, calling 988 would provide a person experiencing a mental health crisis access to a trained counselor. According to NBCNews, the goal is to reduce any violent interactions between law enforcement by creating a more accessible number to call compared to the current 10 digit Suicide Hotline number.

U.S Rep. Seth Moulton was the first to introduce the bill for the 988 mental health crisis hotline. Cardena then took it upon himself to provide states additional funding to create the new health crisis call centers in preparation for the July launch. Moulton and many others are now cosponsoring Cardena’s bill to best implement the hotline.

The proposed 988 hotline has many supporters.

“Having a 988 number to call when you’re in mental distress seems like a really good idea and beneficial for people who need someone to call or talk to,” sophomore Isaac Mancillas said. “This could prevent a lot of unfortunate situations.”

According to the Washington Post, more than 1 in 5 people who have been fatally shot by law enforcement were at the time dealing with a mental illness. Since 2015, 1,569 people with a mental illness have been shot by police on duty. The Treatment Advocacy Center website reports that people dealing with a mental illness are 16 times more likely to be shot by police, another reason why many proponents support this bill.

However, the issue of funding and providing the necessary health professionals may prove challenging in states that lack the adequate resources to effectively implement the hotline. Cardena understands the issue that people need more than just someone to talk to. It could be difficult to provide trained mental health professionals at a moment’s notice.

“Implementing a 988 number like 911 seems really cool and beneficial for people and teens,” junior Kelly Huang said. “I do see though that it would cost a lot of money to implement this number into society.”

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States according to Cardena and suicide rates have increased 33% from the last two decades. Cardena hopes that the new 988 hotline will help lower these rates.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, help is available.  Call 1-877-303-2642 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.