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Ohio legislators mull funding for new 988 mental health hotline

Ohio is working on legislation to set up 988, a new suicide and mental health support line that is set to launch nationwide in July (Source: “Four months from launch, Ohio lawmakers debate costs of new 988 mental health line,” Ohio Capital Journal, March 17).
Service providers see the transition to a simple, three-digit number as an important step in suicide prevention. But the new number’s rollout has been challenging. That easy-to-remember number likely means more callers, and more callers means more staff and potential technology upgrades for agencies.
The number, which will accept calls and texts, was created through federal legislation signed by former President Donald Trump in 2020. The legislation does not include direct federal funding, however, but gives states the go-ahead to impose fees on related services.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only four states so far have passed legislation establishing 988 with ongoing funding from service fees — Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Washington.