Governor Kelly Announces 988 Lifeline Helped Nearly 27% More Callers in First Six Months


Written by: Press Release Posted by David Elliott
Publication date: 02-01-2023

Governor Laura Kelly announced that since its launch in July 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline has managed a nearly 27% increase in call volume over the six months prior to its launch.

Based on national projections, Kansas is expected to reach 120,000 Kansans in the hotline’s first full year of operation.

In June 2022, Governor Kelly sign Senate Bill 19, bipartisan legislation that created the state’s three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL). The hotline is supported by federal funding, with the idea that – like 911 – 988 is easier to remember in a crisis.

“The successes we are seeing with the implementation of 988 are a reflection of the fact that when Kansas leaders come together to invest in mental health, more Kansans can access essential care,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I continue to encourage Kansans to tell their families, friends and neighbors that this resource is there for them whenever they need it.”

Now calls, texts or chats to 988 involving suicidal thoughts, mental health or addiction crises, or other types of emotional distress are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can also receive the immediate support from mobile crisis teams in cases of extreme risk, referral to local mental health services and resources for follow-up care.

“One of the main things we’re trying to do through 988 is to increase access to mental health services and resources,” said Laura Howard, secretary of the Department of Aging and Disability Services. of Kansas (KDADS). “Young people in mental health crisis are used to communicating with their peers and adults via text or chat rather than over the phone. So these formats go a long way to meeting these young people where they are, using a method with which they feel comfortable.”

According to data from Vibrant, the current administrator of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 988 centers in Kansas maintained an in-state call response rate of 85% to 91% month over month in a increased call volume. Other states struggled with call volume, resulting in higher rates of calls being sent to an out-of-state center. Just a few years ago, Kansas answered about 60% of NSPL calls in the state, with many calls being transferred to national rescue centers.

Kansas also fared better than its regional peers when it comes to its drop rate, or the number of calls received that disconnect before engaging with an in-state counselor. This rate has consistently remained below 10%.

In Kansas, 988 contact centers are independently operated. They receive additional state funding and oversight from KDADS and the 988 Coordinating Council appointed last fall by Governor Kelly.

Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters (KSPHQ) reports that 988 funding has allowed them to hire positions for chat/text and calling, increasing capacity to receive calls from Kansans and plan for expanded access. at the cat.

“Overall, we were able to hire more call center support to help take calls, manage resources and work on mobile response statewide,” said Sarah Robertson, Communications and Development. at KSPHQ.

The Kelly administration has also worked to ensure that every Kansan knows this new resource is available.

KDADS commissioned a Kansas-based marketing firm, Mammoth Creative Company, to support the launch of a social media campaign to increase awareness. According to the latest data, the campaign has reached 1.6 million Kansans. Additionally, Mammoth and KDADS are conducting research to better understand which messages are most likely to drive engagement with Kansans in crisis and among several different demographic and at-risk groups.

“Our team is very proud to partner with KDADS to create and deliver messages that support the mental health of all Kansans,” said Ronnie Murphy, Vice President of Client Strategy for Mammoth Creative Company.

“Since the launch of 988 six months ago, this new mental health tool has proven to be an invaluable resource for those in crisis,” said KDADS Behavioral Health Services Commissioner Andy Brown. “The continued commitment of Governor Kelly, the State Legislature and our agency, with the help of our state call centers and strategic marketing partners, ensures Kansans have easy access to the help they need all day, every day.”

(Information courtesy of the Governor’s Office.)

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