Stigma is one of 988’s biggest hurdles. The other is widespread fear of first responders that has increased with every report of another police killing. The latter has led to pervasive misinformation online about how 988 works. But even if we set the record straight, how can we get to a place of public buy-in? It’s one thing to implement a new system for crisis response; it’s another to completely shift culture. How does 988 earn the trust of the people it’s trying to help? In this episode, you’ll hear from actress Glenn Close, Zak Williams, and others working to change the national conversation around mental health.
Connect With Glenn
Bring Change to Mind creates peer support groups for high school students, find out if there’s a chapter near you!
Emergency Services for Deaf Users
Read Steve Hamerdinger’s adapted paper on mental health needs for deaf people and learn more from the National Association of the Deaf.
Keep Up With 988
Follow the rollout, upcoming legislation, and all things 988.
Stay in Touch With Zak
Check out the various mental health organizations Zak is involved with.
Call for Help is a Lemonada original, presented by Sozosei Foundation. Hosting and story-editing were done by Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Our producers are Alie Kilts and Alexa Lim. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Natasha Jacobs is our engineer and sound designer. Music is by Xander Singh with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Naomi Barr is our fact checker. Executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Zak Williams and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Special thanks to Chrystal Genesis and Jackie Danziger for additional support.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter and Instagram at @wittelstephanie. Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.
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To follow along with a transcript, go to lemonadamedia.com/show/callforhelp shortly after the air date.
Glenn Close, Cloud Ben, John Draper, Hannah Wesolowski, Asantewaa Boykin, Margie Balfour, Keris Myrick, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Zak Williams, Seth Moulton, Calen, Steve Hamerdinger, Marz Brown
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 00:22
In this series, we talk openly about issues related to mental health. Some stories include mentions of suicide and homicide, please take care of while listening. And for a list of resources that can help you or a loved one who’s in crisis, please check out our show notes.
Glenn Close 01:50
Zak Williams 01:51
Hi, Glenn. How are you?
Glenn Close 01:53
I’m great. How are the kids?
Zak Williams 01:56
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 01:57
Their birthday is Glenn Close. Yes, the actor from Fatal Attraction or if you’re my kids, 101 Dalmatians. She recently sat down with our call for help service correspondent Zak Williams. Glen worked with Zak’s dad, Robin Williams, on the set of The World According to Garp, which came out in 1982.
Glenn Close 02:25
I had only done theater. I’d done one little thing for TV, and your dad, he was so supportive. I will never never forget because I think he understood how terrifying it is in the beginning. And I honestly I didn’t know what to do with my energy.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 02:44
Remember when Zak joked with me back in episode one that Robin Williams comes in at number three on the list of most beloved people who ever lived. This is more evidence of that. But in addition to sharing fond memories of Zak’s dad, both Glenn and Zak have also experienced the acute pain of watching a loved one struggle silently with mental illness.
Zak Williams 03:06
Yeah, I’d love to hear about your journey around advocacy and how that all started.
Glenn Close 03:11
I’ve told this story many times, but as stills very moving to me, my sister Jessie, who was nearing 50 years old, she came up to me one day and said, I need your help, because I can’t stop thinking about killing myself. I mean, never ever, ever, did our family ever talk about any kind of mental health issues, even though we had several suicides in our family, and Jessie had always been thought of as the wild one. She really fell between the cracks of our family, no one had a clue.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 03:52
Glenn’s dad was a doctor, you’d think with that kind of background mental health would be a regular topic of conversation at the dinner table.
Glenn Close 04:00
But he was a surgeon. There’s a certain kind of ego that goes along with being a great surgeon. And I think for many years, the medical profession and maybe still there are remnants of this looked down on psychiatry as a lesser kind of medicine. And so we never talked about it. When Jesse said that to me, I was shocked.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 04:27
Glenn hits on something that we keep hearing over and over again, no one talks enough about mental health. And that stigma is so deeply entrenched, that it can paralyze families from even helping one of their own. Because of this Glenn founded Bring Change To Mind, an organization encouraging open dialogue about mental health.
Glenn Close 04:51
A lot of families don’t want word to get out. That’s been kind of, I think the pattern until we realized how deadly that can be.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 05:02
Until we shift cultural norms around mental health. It’s hard to imagine that 988 will fulfill its full potential. I mean, sure it’s live operators are standing by, but are we really ready culturally speaking to pick up the phone. So for our final episode, we are going to explore how 988 is being received, and how we can fully reimagine mental health care for the future. I’m Stephanie Wittles Wachs. This is CALL FOR HELP.
Glenn Close 05:47
Jessie, when she came out, she was so frightened that she had a younger daughter that if word got out that she had bipolar disorder that parents wouldn’t want their children to come over and play. She felt stigmatized, and she was self-stigmatizing as well. So it just it’s such a core issue with anyone who’s dealing with an illness that you might feel sidelined or shamed or marginalized.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 06:15
Glenn started by making a public service announcement featuring Jessie and her nephew, Calen.
I’m Calen and I’ve been living with schizophrenia for 11 years.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 06:25
Their family was taking out a metaphorical megaphone and declaring mental illness on a public stage.
Glenn Close 06:32
My goal was to make life for my nephew and my sister more livable. I wanted them to be able to walk down the street without feeling shamed, or, you know, different. What is the alternative? To run away and say it’s not relevant, and it doesn’t happen and my sister could easily have not been here. So even though I feel very unknowing and unwise, I’m going to take the step to say, I’m going to talk openly about it. I’m going to create Bring Change To Mind with this amazing group of people. And it’s just getting more and more miraculous as far as I’m concerned.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 07:17
The same sentiment could apply to 988. Yes, the National Mental Health Lifeline is now available nationwide. But we still don’t totally know what the outcome will be. As we’ve covered in previous episodes, the big vision for 988 is a comprehensive approach to crisis response in America, someone to call, someone to come and somewhere to go. And listen, you came with us to Arizona, a functional system of call centers, mobile crisis teams and dropping facilities are the gold standard, and is so vital to saving lives. But no matter how much infrastructure we put in place, 988 won’t fully achieve its mission without public buy in. And that is even more arduous than the FCC rolling out a three digit number. This piece of the puzzle, the trust piece, demands a deep cultural shift around mental health. And this shift, this de-stigmatization has to also start at home within families. But how do you even begin to tell the people who are closest to you that you’re struggling and need help if like we heard from Glenn Close mental health isn’t something you’re used to talking about.
Keris Myrick 08:35
You know, tell a parent that you’re experiencing voices or you’re seeing things that might not be there and then being worried about number one, how would they understand it, number two, would they love me number three, would they send me away like all
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 08:49
This is mental health advocate Keris Myrick; we met back in episode one. And if you can’t tell by now we are big Karis, Myrick fans, it’s so easy to talk to Karis, about mental health, that it’s hard to imagine at one point, she couldn’t even talk about it with her own family.
Keris Myrick 09:06
For me, I didn’t say anything to my family for quite some time, I was very worried how they would perceive what was going on with me. It’s really, really hard when you’re experiencing it to know who to trust and who will understand. And somehow I think there is this feeling of nobody’s going to get this.
Cloud Ben 09:29
Growing up in a minority household sort of like household at that. It’s very hard to talk about how you feel your mental health, things like that and like what’s going on with you on the inside because it’s seen as this taboo subject nobody wants to talk about and you end up becoming numb to your own emotions to where you don’t even feel it.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 09:52
This is Cloud Ben, they’re a 19 year old college student studying English Lit and Education. During their freshman year, Cloud struggled with our mental health.
Cloud Ben 10:03
So when I got to college, I had like, a mental breakdown in my dorm room. And so, and continues to go on the therapy. And then I got on like antidepressants and stuff, which actually helped. So I was like, this is this is good. This is what I needed. Finally, like I got what I need is actually helped me mentally.
Marz Brown 10:22
Yeah, I also had the same experience for like, a significant part of my life.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 10:29
This is Marz Brown, they’re 16 years old, and a youth advocate like Cloud.
Marz Brown 10:34
I actually grew up with my aunt, it was very intense. It was the say, like, we’re going to brush this under the rug.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 10:41
And when Marz was younger, they were in foster care. And the conversations about mental health certainly weren’t any better.
Marz Brown 10:48
I had a lot of like, court ordered, like therapists and social workers. And I was like, what? Why is nobody telling me these things? It was just all like, put on my plate. And then I had to, you know, most of my like, access to mental health was decided for me or like, prescribed to me. And I feel like it’s really important to loop like young people in on what is happening, especially when it concerns them.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 11:18
But if it’s hard to even feel supported by our own families, how do we begin feeling safe enough to share our mental health experiences out in the world, back to Keris.
Keris Myrick 11:30
We say we don’t air your dirty laundry; mental health is still sort of this conversation we keep at home, not a conversation we have out in the public. What are ways in which this conversation can resonate with the public? And I think, coming out of the pandemics, endemic, pandemic pronoun, whatever people are calling it nowadays, I call it the situation. Everybody is having stress, you know, emotional struggles. And I think that’s the language that resonates mostly with people in the public, they hear mental health. And it’s not quite resonating, they hear mental illness, and it’s oh, those people over there, there’s a sense that it can be tied up with your identity, and how people will react and interact with you.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 12:19
Mental health is something very few people now have the luxury to ignore. But it’s not only about listening, it’s also about trust.
Keris Myrick 12:28
There’s still a lot of misunderstanding. When we look at the research around stigma and stigma reduction, we see that there’s been a decrease in stigma. But because of education, there has been an increase sadly, or no impact on social stigma, which is that thing around do I want to hang out with somebody, marry somebody have a best friend of somebody who has a mental illness? And the public would say no, there’s still a lot of who do you tell? And who do you trust.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 14:39
After the break, we will take a good hard look at those trust issues. We’re back. So in order for 988, to fulfill its promise of saving lives, people have to pick up the phone and call, which sounds relatively simple. But as 988 became widely available across the country, a much bigger problem rose to the surface.
TV Reporter 1 15:18
When the National Suicide Hotline launched its new 988 number last month, reactions were split hosts and social media are warning people not to call it claiming it risks police involvement. There are concerns with how many professionals are actually on the other end of the line.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 15:35
Trust, there are still some people who are skeptical of 988. And as we’ve seen, trust is key during a mental health crisis. Trust that you’ll be safe, trust that you’ll be heard and understood. And trust that you will be able to have a say in your own care.
Keris Myrick 16:07
I have seen people talk about 988 is a new 911. Yeah, no, thank you, have no interest as a black American, of having 911 respond. We have seen too often, of course, the killings of deaths of black folk of disabled folk and mental health crisis by the hands of the police. So that is not safe for us.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 16:34
Marz, Cloud and Keris, all of whom have lived experience with mental health issues, understand the skepticism around 988.
Keris Myrick 16:42
I think one way for folks to start to see that there’s a different response that can happen besides police response. But there has to be trust building around that and trust building means we have to be open, communicative, transparent, and participative. With the people who have received these types of services in the past, with people who had received treatment and voluntarily in the past, because of calling the number what would they like to see.
Seth Moulton 17:15
We’re all cognizant of the fact that there are certain communities that are especially concerned.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 17:21
This is Seth Moulton, who we also met back in episode one. He’s the congressman who got the bill passed.
Seth Moulton 17:28
People of color, are worried that this will be a way for law enforcement to get into their life. We’ve heard about this. And so we’re trying to directly address communities of color and explain very clearly, unequivocally, that this is not about getting people in trouble. It’s just about getting help. These are people who rightly fear persecution by the police. And we’ve got to make it clear, that’s not what’s gonna happen.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 17:53
Seth says he is committed to reaching communities who have suffered at the hands of our inadequate mental health system. We also have to consider communities who have been forced to overcome significant barriers to accessing care, like if you’re deaf or hard of hearing.
Steve Hamerdinger 18:08
988 has not been designed to be differently in the first place.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 18:12
This is Steve Hamerdinger. He’s the director of Deaf Services for the Alabama Department of Mental Health. He’s deaf and a proud member of the deaf community. So one of the reasons I was really just personally interested in doing this, I have two children who are varying degrees of deaf and hard of hearing, but I’m particularly interested in this as it has a personal connection to my family. So thank you for meeting with me today.
Steve Hamerdinger 18:37
Oh, of course. Where are you located?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 18:41
I’m in California, in Central Coast.
Steve Hamerdinger 18:44
Oh, there’s a good deaf population in that area.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 18:48
When he was younger, Steve was put into a mainstream classroom where communication was really challenging.
Steve Hamerdinger 18:54
I started to pick up some sign language while I was at college. I felt comfortable being able to openly communicate with anybody. I’d finally found my home.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 19:04
And one technical note, the voice you’re hearing isn’t Steve’s It’s the voice of his interpreter, Brian, hence the lags you might hear in the conversation. Steve and Brian have been working together for nearly 25 years.
Steve Hamerdinger 19:17
Brian knows me almost as well as I know myself. I’m trusting Brian, my interpreter right now, to accurately express what I’m saying. Through my first language.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 19:34
And for deaf users. When it comes to a mental health crisis. There is a whole other layer to have to navigate.
Steve Hamerdinger 19:40
Now if I’m in a particularly mental crisis, heavy stress environment. Not only am I worried about my own expressions, my own feelings, my own concerns, but then I’m trusting in the interpreter
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 19:57
For deaf users using 988, they can connect through chat text or a relay service. A relay service is where a translator helps with the call. But..
Steve Hamerdinger 20:07
I don’t know who that person is. I have no reason to trust that individual.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 20:13
And that translator is there to interpret for the caller. But most likely they are not trained in mental health and could miss important context and nuance.
Steve Hamerdinger 20:24
It’s one thing to order a pizza. It’s something else entirely to deal with a life ills on line with such a high potential risk for suicide or harm.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 20:41
Or deaf people being included in the planning of 988 and the execution or is there a seat at the table for the Deaf community to help implement this and roll it out in a way that’s effective?
Steve Hamerdinger 20:52
I would love to say yes, that we are. But I will be lying to my teeth if I did. The process is changing. However, Vibrant has made an announcement..
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 21:02
Vibrant is the organization that runs the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and is now the infrastructure that’s currently taking in all of the 90 day calls, and vibrant has announced that they are going to start testing American Sign Language Based options for 988.
Steve Hamerdinger 21:18
We’ve had some inclusion that they’re listening.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 21:21
When the rollout happened, Kara saw two very different conversations happening simultaneously. One was from a lot of the people Charisse works with advocates and people in the mental health field.
Keris Myrick 21:34
It was like a lot of like, hi, coming out party 988, come on, join in. So it was really a lot of energy and things like that. And on the other side, the counter narrative that I was seeing was caution. You know, danger Will Robinson, no way in heck. And then I saw a lot of hyperbole. Don’t call 988. The police will come. Geolocation is you know; big brother is watching that sort of thing.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 22:06
And there have been some big questions that have come up about 988 and geolocation. I know it is a big, technical sounding word, but it’s also a hot button topic. Geolocation refers to the use of technologies such as GPS, or IP addresses to determine the whereabouts of connected devices such as cell phones. Okay, I know there’s lots of information swirling around, and I want to set the record straight.
John Draper 22:33
So geolocation is actually something we don’t have.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 22:37
Remember John Draper who we met in episode one, the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the hotline that is now currently taking in all of those 988 calls?
John Draper 22:48
About 2% of our contacts involve 911. And we have to provide the person’s phone number to 911. And most of the time, when we call 911, it’s because there is a suicide attempt in progress that if we don’t send somebody, someone is going to die. And then most of the time, it’s with the collaboration of the person to the extent they’re able to give that. So that’s the way that works.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 23:18
So out of that 2%, where you do have to call 911, you’re saying most of the time they have to give their consent. But then what is the process like if they can’t give their consent, like who makes that decision? And is that person told they’re being connected to 911.
John Draper 23:33
Every center has to have 24/7 supervisory availability. So in the event that it’s appropriate and timing wise, to connect with a supervisor, but again, sometimes time is of the essence, the person who’s dying. You don’t need to engage a supervisor; you just need to engage 911.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 23:54
But if someone’s in the midst of a severe mental health crisis, would geolocation be useful? To weigh the pros and cons? Let’s go back to our friends in Arizona.
Margie Balfour 24:06
One important detail about 988 is that the way routes your call is based on the area code of your phone.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 24:15
This is Margie Balfour, Chief of quality and clinical innovation at an organization called connections Health Solutions. She’s a psychiatrist and an expert when it comes to crisis care. She’s even written a roadmap for the ideal crisis system.
Margie Balfour 24:30
So if you have a landline, or you have a cell phone with the area code of where you live, that’s fine. Just call 988. And you’re gonna get your local call center who can get you the local resources that you need.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 24:41
So if you live in the same city you lived in when you got your first cell phone, you are all set. But what about the rest of us?
Margie Balfour 24:49
Many people who are in our more mobile population or college students, for example, their area code is different. And so if they call 988, they’re gonna get a call center some Where else that cannot send them those local resources.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 25:02
So I currently live in California, but my area code is still tied to the Lone Star State. So if I call 988, I’d be routed to a call center 1000s of miles away. Not always super helpful if I’m in a crisis and every minute counts. But what’s the downside? Think back two miles a story from Episode Two, or listen to the news on any given day. Beyond that, it is a deeply complex issue that can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety for people, especially on their worst day. Here’s Keris again.
Keris Myrick 25:44
Oh, my, okay. This is again, that complexity. And I’m hoping what people are hearing too is that people with mental health conditions are people. We were just like people like anybody else, right? And so if you think about yourself, whether you have a mental health condition or not, like how much do you want the quote unquote, man knowing about you, you know what I mean? Like, how much do you want people knowing about you? Sometimes we’re comfortable with it. We’re on Facebook or Twitter, we’re sharing all sorts of stuff that it’s like, you might want to keep that under wraps. I don’t know if you want all that out there. But when it comes to your health, that’s why we have things like HIPAA.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 26:21
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act a mouthful, for sure. But it’s a federal law that protects sensitive health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent. So as you can imagine, when it comes to 988, this could potentially turn into a sticky situation.
Keris Myrick 26:41
I’m trying to imagine situations where you’ve got the golden, two minutes, no, they call about the golden hour when somebody has a stroke. What are situations that are golden like that? Where you do need pinpoint geolocation? I would think those are probably pretty few and far between. So I think of geolocation as is that possible to turn it on and off, and to ask permission to turn it on. That’s the consent piece. So I think choice, communication, transparency.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 27:14
We didn’t say this is going to be easy, especially since 988, is called a confidential resource.
Keris Myrick 27:24
When you’re calling 988, you’re expecting this level of privacy. Geolocation can feel like a violation of privacy to people. And they get fearful that well, how do I know at some point during the call that I’ve said something, and the next thing I know, police are at my door, and they’re dragging me away, to lock me away. That’s the fear that’s happening out there in the community. But there are different types of geolocation.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 27:50
We also asked Seth Moulton about the geolocation debate.
Seth Moulton 27:54
You know, I think we have to be guided by the data. So I’m not I’m actually deliberately not taking a stance on this, because I just want to do whatever saves the most lives, like that should be the goal here. So we’re gonna have to see how this works. And the first few months here to determine what makes the most sense. But that’s the goal. The goal is not to get people in trouble. The goal is to get people help.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 28:20
So where are we with that goal today? Now that 988 is available across the country? Are we getting people help? Well, we’ll find out after the break.
TV Reporter 2 29:21
What was formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, the new three digit number no up and running.
TV Reporter 3 30:42
That’s right. It’s been a hard couple of years and was decades in the making but a tremendous step forward in 2020. And the states have been working to roll it out since then.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 30:56
I mean, I haven’t been as curious about a specific day like this. Since Y2K, remember that? But here’s the thing, we won’t be able to truly know how 988 is working or not working for months, probably years. It’s going to take copious amounts of data and story collection. So having said all that, what is the status of 988 today? Are people calling 988? And getting through no problem? Are they calling and not getting the help they need? Are their data points that can give us some insight into how it’s all going to figure it out. I called up Hannah Wesolowski, Chief advocacy officer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Hi, how are you, Hannah?
Hannah Wesolowski 31:47
Good, how are you?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 31:49
And she has been going over the 988 data like it is a March Madness basketball bracket. Okay, so let’s talk more about numbers I saw that calls to the National Suicide Hotline increased by 45%. So can you give me a clearer idea of how many calls that is?
Hannah Wesolowski 32:06
Sure. So that was almost 100,000 calls in the first six days, seven days of the lifeline being available via 988 nationwide. So you know, 96,000 calls, texts or chats that first week compared to 66,000, the week before, that’s also a huge jump compared to where it was a year ago. And we’re looking at the same week and 2021. It’s about a 66% jump. Some call centers, we’re seeing double or triple volume. Really, we think a lot of people were curious, they weren’t sure what this number was they were calling for information they were calling to see if they’d actually get through.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 32:44
So with all of that increase, when people do call, are they getting through? Are there issues related to staffing? Like how are we handling that influx?
Hannah Wesolowski 32:58
Largely their capacity to answer calls is increasing at just the right time to be able to answer those 988 calls. Connecticut, for example, reported that they were answering calls in three seconds or less for 95% of calls on the first day that 988 was available. That’s really good. We want people to get through quickly. And they’re also answering more than 95% of calls in state.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 33:24
Gosh, Connecticut overachievers three seconds. I mean, Connecticut. I’m not surprised. The state has around three and a half million people and a mental health budget of over $660 million. In comparison, Arkansas has roughly the same size population, but their yearly budget is about $95 million. That’s a big difference. And remember, each state determines how it will raise funds for 988.
TV Reporter 1 33:53
Montana was awarded federal funding from SAMSA. The nearly $500,000 in funds were intended to support an increase in staff needs. And with an expected increase in nearly 30% In calls. funding for the program is a key piece to the puzzle.
TV Reporter 2 34:16
Counselors in Massachusetts are already seeing its impact. But are there enough counselors to handle the surge?
Hannah Wesolowski 34:23
We’ve heard reports of some states where their in state answer rate decreased significantly the first few days because they had such high demand, or people were disconnected before those calls were answered or, you know, calls were transferred out of state. That’s not necessarily bad. If a call is an answer locally, they’re still answered by a trained crisis counselor. Ideally, we want those calls answered locally because they can connect to additional resources to help people get well and stay well which is really our goal here.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 34:52
988 in its simplest form is one easy to remember phone number. But the idea is that it connects the caller to a variety of mental health services and resources.
Hannah Wesolowski 35:05
Ideally, we want 988 to be the hub for a variety of different crisis services. We want to make this streamlined, easy connect everything. So much of this comes down to funding.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 35:17
Of course, isn’t that always what success or failure comes down to? And the truth is, until that funding kicks in, there will be gaps in 988.
Seth Moulton 35:28
I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect on day one. But the early data is really encouraging.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 35:34
Here’s Congressman Moulton again.
Seth Moulton 35:36
We knew going in that all these call centers are staffed at the state level. And not every state is as prepared as the next. So we knew that there could be reasonable disparities, we’ve had an 18 fold increase in federal funding this year over last year, to the states to help them staff up to be ready for what we hope is a lot more Americans calling for help.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 36:03
That 18 fold increase translates to over 400 million more dollars for the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline.
Seth Moulton 36:13
But nonetheless, we still know that we’ve got to get to the point where all the states are investing the resources they should in mental health care. And we’re not there yet.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 36:23
And when it comes to 988, progress is incremental.
Keris Myrick 36:28
All I can say is reach out for help if you need it.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 36:31
Here is Keris Myrick back with very, very good advice.
Keris Myrick 36:36
Call 988 if there’s not another number that you have handy, or that you know, this one, now have we said it enough 988-988, get the help that you need. I think people worry that the situation that they’re experiencing in the moment is the situation that will be forever, and it won’t. And there are people so, many people who care who are here to help, who want to help, and you know, for the person to live their best life.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 37:04
And that is the bottom line, attempt to get the care that you need. And know that you won’t feel like this forever. And someday, with lots of hard work and advocacy from all the amazing people we’ve met on this podcast and so many others who are on the front line, we can do better. I keep thinking about Asantewaa Boykin from Mental Health first, who we spoke to in an earlier episode, she offered some wise words that I reflect on, when I think about how to take action.
Asantewaa Boykin 37:36
I think that sometimes our relationships to these institutions, we see them as like, bigger than life, right is infallible. But, and a firefighter told me this, the first five people that got together and decided we should take care of fires in a way that makes sense. And now look, it’s like an institution. So like, we have to all start somewhere. And if there’s a problem, then go about fixing it. Because I really feel like a big part of our work is having inspired folks to believe that they can create systems that affirm them.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 38:12
And that’s the takeaway, we can create a system that works for us, or work to change the system from within this pandemic really put mental health at the forefront. We lost people stress was extremely high. And we were scared. Many of us were stuck at home. Others were working on the front line. But all of us were uncertain of what would happen in the world. So in some ways, we all had to reckon with how we were doing mentally. With this in mind, what could the future look like free from stigma. And if we had all the funding we needed, when will society and all of us change our attitudes around mental health? Here’s John Draper again from Vibrant.
John Draper 39:06
Let’s have something different and really put a stake in the ground in our culture that says we have got to do something different for people with mental health problems. There’s also a quite a number of care services we haven’t even imagined yet because we’re only now starting to open up the gates and windows for crisis care conversations that we’ve never fully had before. So I wouldn’t say in the next 25 years. We’re going to look back at this time and see this was just coming out of the dark ages of crisis care and actually beginning to see communities of crisis care that are being built and extended.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 39:49
Until we see mental health as a health issue. We won’t be able to reimagine what our mental healthcare system can and should look like. for ourselves, for those we love, and for our communities at large. We may not live in this ideal world today, but it is within our grasp. 988 is an opportunity to re envision a future where mental illness is not criminalized for care is accessible to all covered by private and public insurance and treated as any other medical condition. Will we ever get there? Well, that is your call to make to use your voice, your vote, and your creativity to build that world. Here’s Zak.
Zak Williams 40:44
Thanks, Steph. Hey, friends, it’s me Zak Williams, your official call for help service correspondent back one last time with your resources that go beyond the podcast. Our goal here is to give you the tools you need to take action. So first, you can start the conversation around mental health within your family and circle. Glenn Close his organization bring change to mind creates peer support groups for high school students. Find out if there’s a chapter near you, or go to bring change to as in the number mind.org and start your own. Next, learn more about emergency services for deaf users and find ways to advocate for better accessibility when it comes to mental health crisis response under our show notes. And I know for us, this is our last episode, but it’s not the end 988 is just the beginning. Keep up to date on the rollout upcoming legislation and all things 988 by visiting NAMI’s website, reimaginedcrisis.org By now you know you can find all these links in our show notes where ever you’re listening. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have been part of this series. To stay in touch with me and my work, visit bring changetomind.org, unitedjmh.org and inseparable.us, projecthealthyminds.com and PYM.com Take care.
CALL FOR HELP is a Lemonada Media Original. Presented by Sozosei foundation hosting and story editing were done by me Stephanie Wittels Wachs, our producers, our Alie Kilts and Alexa Lim. Tess Novotny is our associate producer, Natasha Jacobs is our engineer and sound designer. Music is by Xander Singh, with additional music by Natasha Jacobs. Naomi Bar is our fact checker. Executive Producers are Zak Williams, Jessica Cordova, Kramer and me. We are so grateful to our show sponsors the Jed Foundation, National Alliance on Mental Health and the Just trust, and a special thanks to Krystal Genesis and Jackie Danziger, for additional support. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at widow Stephanie and stay up to date with Lemonada on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia You can also get premium content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. For a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series you can visit lemonadamedia.com/sponsors. And finally to follow along with the transcript, go to Lemonada media.com/show/callforhelp shortly after the air date.