Starting next month, a new three-digit dialing code is launching that will connect callers with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The 988 dialing code launches on July 16 across the U.S. and allows for those seeking mental health assistance to call or text the number, at which point a trained counselor will offer help. The service is certain to prove deeply impactful for many in the U.S., particularly in areas where mental health resources are severely lacking.
In the weeks leading up to the launch, however, many have raised concerns over how 988 will be funded in states that have failed to put money into it. As detailed in an NBC News report this week, only four states—Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and Virginia—have put “comprehensive funding plans” in place for 988. A recent Axios-cited report from the nonprofit RAND Corporation, meanwhile, went into further detail about worries of an increase in demand not being able to be met.
Jennifer Piver—who serves as the executive director of South Carolina’s Mental Health America of Greenville County organization—told NBC News this week that the tech required to make 988 a success is already in place but the money is not.
“We do not have the funding for staff, for salaries,” Piver said.
An increase in demand spurred by the 988 launch has been the source of funding-related discussion at the state level for some time now. The three-digit transition was recommended in 2019 as part of an FCC report on the prior year’s National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, which also called for the change.