Steinberg Institute joins Virtual Event Highlighting New 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

CALIFORNIA — Steinberg Institute Senior Advocate Tara Gamboa-Eastman joined U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Assemblymember Rebecca-Kahan (D-Orinda), Stephanie Welch, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health, California Health & Human Services Agency and Lauren Finke of The Kennedy forum for a virtual event to celebrate the establishment of the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The new 988 crisis line launched nationally in July. Assembly Bill 988 The Miles Hall Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Act was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this year. The legislation, authored by Bauer-Kahan and sponsored by the Steinberg Institute and The Kennedy Forum, provides the framework and funding for 988 implementation. AB 988 will ensure everyone in California has someone to call, someone to come, and somewhere to go.

Watch the discussion here:

Key quotes from the discussion:

“For years, we’ve been fighting to end the stigma around mental health care, and to get Californians the support they need. 988 is a national suicide and crisis lifeline that launched last summer to help anyone in California and across the country get connected to resources,” said Senator Padilla. “If you’re experiencing mental health-related distress, or if you’re worried about a loved one who may need help, by calling 988 you’ll be connected with a trained mental health professional. This accessible care will save lives. We’re making big progress, but it’s clear this fight is not over— we need to do more to help low-income and underserved communities, especially for the schools and students who still lack the resources they need.”

“988 reimagines the mental health crisis response system in California,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda). “I’m grateful to champions on the federal level like Senator Padilla for partnering to make 988 a reality. This work will save lives.”

“The transition to 988 represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve behavioral health crisis prevention, response, and stabilization across the nation and in California. This easy to remember three-digit number is a catalyst for change and offers the potential to foster a strengthened infrastructure and promote policies and practices that will allow providers to respond to all behavioral health crises, inclusive of suicidality, mental health crises, and substance use disorder crises, for all persons across developmental ages,” said Stephanie Welch, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health, California Health & Human Services Agency. “California stands ready to do the hard work needed to build out the capacity to achieve the vision set out in 988.”

“No matter your situation, your insurance provider, or your location, quality and accessible mental health care should be there for you when you need it. AB 988 is a huge, leading step forward in accomplishing just that,” said Lauren Finke of The Kennedy Forum. “Not only does AB 988 set a precedent in crisis response, it sets a precedent in crisis coverage. Behavioral health crisis services are emergency services and should be covered equally to physical health emergency services. California has seized the opportunity that the launch of 988 presented – other states should follow suit to build out their systems of crisis response and care.”

“California has once again proved we are a leader in mental health reform,” said Tara Gamboa-Eastman, Senior Advocate at the Steinberg Institute. “By passing AB 988, the state has become only the 5th to pass legislation to implement and sustainably fund the new mental health crisis line. Now, Californians in crisis can take heart knowing that thanks to AB 988 there will always be help on the other side of the phone.”

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