The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) is celebrating the anniversary of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline this week with a focus on growth, increased capacity and the lives that are being changed with increased access to mental health resources.
"We are proud of the work we have done to increase awareness of the 988 Lifeline, which has been a valuable resource for Louisianans in crisis. The Lifeline offers hope and reassurance instantly with compassionate, professional intervention through calls, texts and chats, helping to reduce stigma and build a healthier Louisiana," said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.
In July 2022, OBH completed a long-planned transition to the 988 Lifeline, which included adding 988 in-state call centers that expanded call capacity statewide.
With the increased in-state call capacity and shortening the previous seven-digit number to the easy-to-remember 988, OBH set a goal of reaching vulnerable populations and expanding the reach of this important mental health resource. OBH also led an effort to increase the in-state answer rate, recognizing that Louisiana-staffed call centers were best positioned to understand local culture, direct callers to additional mental health resources and have familiarity with local stressors such as natural disasters.
“Louisiana’s trained call center responders have been working to provide a robust response to crisis situations and to Louisiana residents who are experiencing emotional stress over the last year, and we know that their work has saved lives,” said OBH Assistant Secretary Karen Stubbs. “Our goal with 988 has been to reduce the stigma around mental health, remove barriers and ensure Louisiana residents can make additional connections to local resources. We are making significant progress, but we hope to expand our reach even more as we begin our second year of 988.”
Since launch, call volume for 988 has increased by 11%, and the in-state answer rate rose from 64% in June 2022 to a rate ranging from 85% to 91% over the last year. The Lifeline offers specialized supports to veterans and their families, Spanish speakers, LGBTQ+ youth, and deaf and hard of hearing people.
- Veterans, service members and their families (press 1)
- Spanish speakers (press 2)
- LGBTQ+ youth and people under the age of 25 (press 3)
- Deaf and hard of hearing people (use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988)
988 is also offering text and chat for those who prefer not to call. Louisiana has responded to an average of 224 texts and 157 chats per month since December 2022.
In May, OBH launched a public awareness campaign that included the launch of a 988 dashboard, radio PSAs, social media messaging and more, and we continue to work toward a larger, Louisiana-specific public awareness campaign in the coming months.
If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org, and know that you are not alone. There is hope. The Lifeline works.