EMERGENCY: Call or text 988

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Has the 988 lifeline been effective? Philly officials say yes

Read the full report from KYW

By Pat Loeb July 14, 2023

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Would you know what number to call for help regarding a mental health crisis?

Last year federal officials tried to make it easy by making 988 the national hotline for suicide prevention and other mental health challenges. They launched the number in Philadelphia because the city had already taken steps to improve its mental health response. On Friday, Philadelphia officials marked the anniversary with an update on the hotline’s progress.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass was receiving frantic phone calls this week from a constituent whose son, with a history of mental health issues, was found naked and clearly in distress after being missing for several days.

“‘Help, help, help what to do, what to do, what to do,’ Bass recalled. “I called 988, we were able to get some assistance and we were able to resolve the situation.”

Bass told the story to illustrate that the hotline is working, not only because there’s an easy number to call, but because the response is fast and effective.

Behavioral Health Commissioner Jill Bowen says the city has worked hard to improve its response since the 2020 death of Walter Wallace, who was shot by police when he ran toward them with a knife in the midst of a mental health crisis.

Read the full report from KYW

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