Maryland allocates $12 million in funding for 988 hotline


Photo courtesy of Capital News Service

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) established the National Suicide Prevention Line in 2005. The destigmatization of mental health over the years has dramatically increased the number of callers since 2005.

The Maryland General Assembly plans to add $12 million in funding toward the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline kicking off their first bill of 2023. The funding will be appropriated into the 2025 fiscal year budget if approved by Maryland Governor Wes Moore.
Sponsored by a bipartisan group of 13 Senators, the bill unanimously passed both chambers of the Maryland legislature on March 30. This follows two previous bills which allocated $5 million in funding for 2023, and $5.5 million for 2024.
Since 2020 the Federal government has invested close to $1 billion to create mobilized mental health teams and emergency centers.
“Funding anything is going to be good because it’s going to help train staff to be better at answering these phone calls, help set up stronger support, get more information out there and help the community know this is a resource,” WJ Licensed Clinical Social Worker Catherine Kennedy said.
More funding can also be used to hire more mental health responders.
“I think [the hotline] had a long waiting list at times. So I think it would be good if they got more people to answer the calls,” School Psychologist Kimberly McGonigle said.
988 was activated in July 2022
“I would explain it as the mental health alternative to 911. I think people were already using 911 as a mental health resource when they felt unsafe, so it just kind of took that and gave it to people who know a little bit more about mental health,” McGonigle said.
The Lifeline network itself has been operating since 2005 with over 200 crisis centers. The lifeline has received over 20 million calls and is open to provide support 24 hours a day.
“After school hours and on weekends are times when students should access this as needed. When in school, I hope that they would come down to their counselor or myself or talk to a teacher to get them connected to a trusted adult,” Kennedy said.