Human Services Highlights Investments to Suicide & Crisis Lifeline on First Anniversary of 988
Murphy Administration Has Allocated $31.8 Million in FY2024 Budget to Expand NJ’s 988 Lifeline System
July 21, 2023
(TRENTON) – In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today highlighted ongoing investments by the state to support the 988 Lifeline, including $10 million in state funding to help the 988 Lifeline centers in the state expand their capacity, and a nearly $3 million public awareness campaign that will launch soon to bolster promotion of the 988 Lifeline statewide.
“Mental health care matters, and in New Jersey, we are making every effort to make it easier for people to get the help they need. Since 988 launched in July 2022, we have seen an increase in calls to the Lifeline. We are grateful to Governor Murphy and the Legislature for their continued support of 988. I also want to recognize the 988 Lifeline Centers for all their hard work over the last year to meet this demand, and ensure people experiencing a crisis will find a compassionate, caring voice on the other end of the line when they need it most,” said Commissioner Adelman.
988 is the new three-digit number to call for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). The transition to 988 occurred on July 16, 2022.
Commissioner Adelman highlighted the 988 investments during an event at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Center in Piscataway, where she joined representatives from the state’s 988 Lifeline Call Centers – Rutgers-UBHC, CONTACT of Burlington County, Caring Contact, CONTACT of Mercer County and Mental Health Association in New Jersey – for a roundtable discussion about their work, the state’s goals for 988 and how the state can continue to support their efforts.
The $10 million is part of the $31.8 million allocated in the FY2024 budget for 988, and will be used to help 988 Lifeline Centers increase staff and expand technology so they can manage the anticipated increase in volume of calls, chats and texts. This is in addition to the $3.7 million in federal funding provided to the centers to increase capacity since the transition to 988.
The remaining state funding will be used to develop mobile crisis outreach response teams. These teams will work in coordination with the 988 Lifeline Centers, and will respond to non-life threatening crises when deemed necessary. Human Services is also developing Crisis Receiving and Stabilization Centers to provide community-based services in a facility designed to meet the immediate needs of people experiencing a suicidal, mental health or substance use crisis.
“New Jersey is investing in mental health care and 988 is a big part of that. We are working to expand our 988 system so more New Jerseyans can get immediate help, and the most appropriate care when experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who heads the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The public awareness campaign will include 988 ads on billboards, NJ Transit buses, trains and bus shelters, as well as digital and social media ads, and ads on game-day programs for the Jets, Giants, Eagles and Rutgers football. 988 posters will also be displayed in convenience stores, college campuses, and other target locations to reach hard-to-reach populations.
“We recognize how important it is for people experiencing these types of crises to connect with someone who is specifically trained to de-escalate crisis situations and offer support. Ramping up our public awareness campaign will help widen our reach so all New Jerseyans will know that in a moment of crisis, 988 is the go-to for immediate help,” added Commissioner Adelman.
988 is available to anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, or a mental health or substance use crisis. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
988 offers live call services in English and Spanish, and uses language line services to respond in over 250 other languages. 988 chat and texting, which was only available in English, is now also available in Spanish. People can text to 988, and chat 988 at 988lifeline.org/chat.
988 also offers TTY services, and is developing video phone service for American Sign Language (ASL) users.
In addition to the 988 Lifeline number, the original 1-800-237-8255 number is still operational.
Since the transition to 988, call volume to the Lifeline in New Jersey has increased nearly 22 percent. The state’s 988 Lifeline Centers are receiving between 4,500 to 5,000 calls per month. Calls, chats and texts that are not answered by one of the five 988 Lifeline Centers in the state are routed to national backup centers, so no call, text or chat goes unanswered. The investments made by the Administration will allow for more calls to be answered by NJ Lifeline Centers.
Numerous studies have shown that most Lifeline callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a crisis counselor. According to SAMHSA, almost 98 percent of people who call, chat or text 988 get the crisis support they need and do not require additional services in that moment.
For national information about 988, visit here.
For New Jersey-specific information about 988, visit here.