CHA News

CHA Joins Advisory Group for California’s New 988 System

This post has been archived and contains information that may be out of date.

What’s happening: 988 replaced the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number in 2022. CHA’s Kirsten Barlow has been appointed to California’s 988-Crisis Policy Advisory Group tasked with developing a comprehensive five-year plan for the system.   

What else to know: Barlow will ensure the hospital voice is part of the conversation shaping the future of a system designed to help people at risk of suicide, or with mental health or substance use disorder challenges.  

In July 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number transitioned to 988, with the goal of making it easier for people in crisis to talk with someone and connect with needed support. Barlow is vice president, policy, focusing on behavioral health issues. She will add CHA’s perspective to the 988-call system, which has the potential to reduce the volume of behavioral health patients in California’s emergency departments because they will get help before having to turn to an emergency department.  

Calls, texts, and chats to 988 are directed to one of 12 crisis centers around the state based on area code. In the first year after the new number was established, data from crisis response centers show that calls increased by 28%.  

The 988-Crisis Policy Advisory Group includes about three dozen experts from around the state representing a wide range of fields. 

Shortly after the new 988 number went into effect nationally, California established the Crisis Care Continuum Plan, a comprehensive vision to expand behavioral health services across the state.