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Unfortunately, statistics show that too often, people in mental health crises experience tragic outcomes. According to The Washington Post, one in four people shot and killed by police between 2015 and 2020 had mental illness; more than 2 million people with mental illness are booked into our nation’s jails every year; and tragically, more than 48,000 people died by suicide in the last year.
People who experience a mental health crisis deserve a mental health response, not a criminal justice response. When someone experiences any type of physical health crisis, they expect to be able to call 911 and receive an appropriate health care response from EMTs. NAMI is working to create a system where someone experiencing a mental health crisis can also have expectations to receive a crisis standard of care provided by mental health professionals.
In the fall of 2020, Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, creating a nationwide number — 988 — for mental health and suicidal crises. The Federal Communications Commission has acted to make 988 available in every community by July 2022.
In 2020, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published crisis guidelines that outline a standard of care for mental health crises, including:
– 24/7 crisis call centers that can provide immediate support over the phone and connect callers to community resources.
– Mobile crisis teams that dispatch mental health professionals (including peers) when someone needs more help than can be provided over the phone.
– Warm and welcoming crisis stabilization programs that help identify longer-term treatment needs and keep a person from needing more intensive care.
Visit NAMI’s Advocacy Center to find the federal, state and local elected officials who represent you. You can also get help by texting “NAMI” to 741741 or calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.