Shaheen, Hassan Welcome Critical Funding to Invest in Launch of 3-Digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Senators Cosponsored Legislation to Create the New Lifeline
American Rescue Plan Funding Will Boost Access to Life-saving Services for People Experiencing Suicidal or Mental Health Crisis
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today welcomed $282 million in national funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for suicide prevention and crisis care services, including the transition to the three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline established by the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, cosponsored by Shaheen and Hassan.
“This funding could not come at a more critical time, as COVID-19 once again surges in New Hampshire and throughout the nation. The pandemic exacerbated the anxiety and stress of all Americans, in particular those struggling with pre-existing mental health conditions. As we near two years of this crisis, bolstering resources and care for those who need it is crucial,” said Senator Shaheen. “I was proud to cosponsor legislation establishing 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and to help negotiate the American Rescue Plan, which provides the tools necessary to invest in suicide prevention and response. Even when we turn the page on the pandemic, the toll it’s taken on Americans’ mental health will require infrastructure and resources to treat and recover. That’s why I’ll keep prioritizing policies that address suicide prevention and awareness.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored that we must act to address the shortcomings of our mental health support system,” said Senator Hassan. “This funding will help to implement the 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that we established last year so that more Americans can easily receive access to mental health resources. I am proud to have worked on the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act and I look forward to seeing this funding being put to good use.”
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act designates 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis line is 10-digits long, which is a barrier to Americans in crisis seeking support. The 988 dialing code will be available nationally for call, text or chat beginning in July 2022.
Shaheen is a leader in the Senate working to shine light on the mental health crisis and promote suicide prevention efforts. In FY22 funding legislation announced by the Senate Appropriations Committee in August, Shaheen worked to include $598 million for suicide prevention outreach at the VA, which is an increase of $286 million from FY21 funding levels. This continues Shaheen’s leadership on suicide prevention measures. Over the summer, she visited the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester to discuss the needs and challenges facing the area as it addresses the mental health crisis. She also hosted a virtual discussion with New Hampshire stakeholders and advocates to discuss the youth and teen mental health epidemic facing the state. To highlight the need to address teen mental health challenges, Shaheen invited Maureen O’Dea, President of the New Hampshire School Counselors Association and Director of School Counseling at Londonderry High School, as her virtual guest to President Biden’s joint address to Congress. Shaheen has fought to secure funding for mental health care and substance misuse services during the pandemic, including $4.25 billion in funding through December’s emergency COVID relief legislation and nearly $4 billion through the American Rescue Plan.
Senator Hassan is working across the aisle to expand access to mental health care for Granite Staters and Americans. The President recently signed into law a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senator Hassan to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a pilot program on dog training therapy and provide service dogs to veterans with mental health challenges. Senator Hassan recently introduced a bipartisan bill to improve maternal mental health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum patients, including working to address postpartum depression and anxiety, and maternal suicide – which is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States. Senator Hassan also introduced the bipartisan Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to improve the way patients receive care for mental illness in emergency departments.