988 crisis line implementation (HB 1477)

In 2020, Congress designated the new 988 dialing code to be operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the lead federal agency, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  

Learn more about 988 implementation on the Department of Health (DOH) website.

Overview 

In Washington, the legislature passed HB 1477 (E2SHB 1477), the Crisis Call Center Hubs and Crisis Services Act, to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services for all people in Washington State. This bill established the Crisis Response improvement Strategy (CRIS) committee, which will develop recommendations to support implementation of the work in the bill.

As of July 16, 2022, the 988 dialing code is available nationally for call, text, or chat. Increased collaboration between crisis service providers aims to reduce the use of emergency room and police departments, while increasing options for those in crisis and improving system coordination around access to care. 

988 fast facts 

  • 988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. Those who are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support can also dial 988.
  • Access to the NSPL is available through every land line, cell phone, and voice-over internet devices in the United States.
  • 988 services are available in Spanish, along with interpretation services in over 250 languages.
  • The 988 dialing code is available for call, text, and chat as of July 16, 2022. The ten-digit NSPL number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is still active along with 988.
  • The nationwide implementation of the 988 three-digit call, text, and chat line is just the first important step in re-imagining crisis support in the U.S.
  • After July 16, Washington will launch the Native and Strong Lifeline, dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who call 988. The Native and Strong Lifeline will work in partnership with the Washington Indian Behavioral Health Hub to identify resources and follow-up for those contacting 988. For additional resources, please see NativeAndStrong.org and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

What happens when you dial 988? 

  • When you dial 988, you will be connected to an NSPL call center.
  • You can call, text, or chat 988 on your cell phone, land line, or voice-over internet devices.
  • The 10-digit number for the NSPL is still active. You can dial either 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 988.
  • People contacting 988 are not required to provide any personal data to receive services. Calls may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance or training purposes. The network system has several safeguards to address concerns about privacy.
  • There are no changes to dispatch for Designated Crisis Responders and mobile crisis response teams or the functions of any other regional crisis service.
  • The NSPL crisis centers will continue to operate according to NSPL standards and will connect with 911 services and regional crisis services as usual.  
  • Learn more about calling 988 here

Crisis call centers  

Washington has three NSPL crisis centers that answer calls from around the state. 

  • Volunteers of America of Western Washington 
  • Frontier Behavioral Health 
  • Crisis Connections 

Your call will be directed to one of these crisis call centers based on your location. Calls are routed by area code. Crisis centers are currently hiring. If you are interested in a career helping people in crisis, apply for a job with an NSPL crisis center

Additional resources 

News 

Contact

Allison Wedin
Involuntary Treatment Act administrator
Email:
 allison.wedin@hca.wa.gov
Phone: 360-725-0497

Kelly McPherson
State health IT coordinator
Email:
 kelly.mcpherson@hca.wa.gov
Phone: 360-725-1309