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Local News

NH backs 988 mental health hotline with local resources

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Two years since activation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a new report found New Hampshire could improve resources for the mental  health response system.

It showed a monthly telecom surcharge could generate more than $1 million annually for the hotline, improving crisis response and stabilization centers.

Shamera Simpson, executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-New Hampshire, said calls are increasing to the hotline, which offers confidential support at any time of day.

“That has broken down a lot of barriers,” Simpson observed. “We know that more people feel comfortable calling the crisis hotline without fear of what might possibly happen later.”

The hotline received more than 1,000 calls from residents in May alone. Simpson pointed out federal legislation aims to ensure calls to the hotline are routed by geographic location rather than by area code. Roughly 80% of calls to the hotline in New Hampshire are answered in-state.

More than 9 million calls are made to the 988 nationwide hotline each year. People experiencing emotional distress often benefit from a conversation with a trained behavioral  health therapist or a visit from a mobile  health response team.

Angela Kimball, chief advocacy officer for the mental health advocacy organization Inseparable, said these trained responders can de-escalate a mental health emergency while helping free up law enforcement resources.

“We can avoid the expense, the trauma of emergency departments, of jails, of law enforcement involvement,” Kimball explained. “And really give people help when they need it most.”

The report from Inseparable suggested New Hampshire needs at least 13 mobile response units tied to the hotline to meet demand. Kimball added the state would benefit from an annual legislative reporting system and improved coordination between 988 and the 911 response systems, to reduce reliance on one hotline for mental  health emergencies.

This article is republished from the Public News Service under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.